Roger DeWitt Higley Dies; Longtime Resident was 80

Roger DeWitt Higley


Beloved longtime Sitkan Roger DeWitt Higley passed away suddenly at his home in Sitka on April 5, 2021. He was 80.

Roger was born December 3, 1940, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the first of three children born to Robert DeWitt and Cornelia (née Baker Nash) Higley.

Roger graduated from Highland High School in Salt Lake City in 1959. Always a hard worker, he had a job as a bag boy, and then as a checker for Dan’s Food Town. After high school graduation, he went to work for Tracy Collins Bank & Trust, first as a bank messenger, and then as a teller at several of the bank’s branch offices.

In September 1962 Roger joined the U.S. Coast Guard. After completing boot camp in Alameda, California, the Coast Guard stationed him in Sitka, where he served on the C.G. buoy tender Sorrel as a seaman.

In the summer of 1964 Roger was transferred to the Coast Guard base near Long Beach, California. While there, he served as the messenger for the District Office, and later became the driver for the District Commander, Adm. Ned Sprow. While serving he received the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

In 1966, Roger completed his four-year tour with the USCG with the goal to return to Sitka, which he did.

On arrival back to Sitka in October 1966, Roger went to work for Ray Woodruff at Sitka Engine and Equipment. In December of that year, he joined Arrowhead Transfer, where he worked for 32 years, retiring as Vice President of Administration and Comptroller in October 1998. During this time he worked closely with the company’s owner, Gordie Harang, and saw the company grow from a one-person office to seven busy offices throughout Southeast Alaska, with 110 employees.

Roger witnessed many changes in the transportation business. From Alaska Steamship’s WWII Liberty ships arriving every two weeks to weekly, and then twice-weekly arrivals of Alaska Marine Line barges. 

For 25 years Roger owned and operated Totem Travel, which first was located downtown on Lincoln Street, and then moved to the DMV building on Halibut Point Road. The travel agency closed in 2003.

On January 10, 1987, Roger married Cecelia (Ce) Ann Hodges. They enjoyed many years of traveling the world. They especially loved cruising. In 2015 they embarked on a 108-day World Cruise. On other cruises they saw polar bear in the Arctic, Norway, and took many trips to New Zealand (a favorite destination of the couple). They enjoyed river cruises in Russia, China and Europe.

Roger was very fond of trains, so some of their travels included railroading across Australia. Roger and Ce loved road trips and drove all over the USA visiting all the lower 48 states, seeing friends along the way. For many years they enjoyed wintering in Maui at their condo in Kihei.

Roger was passionate about serving his community, and volunteered many hours to local organizations and non-profits. He was an active member of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce. When not traveling he never missed a weekly Chamber luncheon, which Ce attended along with him. In 2017 the Chamber presented Roger with its highest honor, the Cossack Cap Award, in recognition of his service to Sitka.

Roger was a founding member of the Sitka Economic Development Association (SEDA), and was made an honorary life-time board member. He continued to attend board meetings whenever in town.

A lover of classical music, Roger served on the board of the Sitka (Summer) Music Festival for 20 years, and was president of that board for eight years until he stepped down in 2005. 

Roger was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Cornelia Higley, his brother Robert DeWitt Higley, and sister Constance Ann Higley.

He is survived by his dear wife Ce, of Sitka. Also surviving are his sons Russel DeWitt (Pamela) Higley, of Tacoma, Washington, and Stanley (Maybelle) Filler Jr. of Sitka; and daughters Stephanie (Jim) Charlesworth of Sitka, and Angela Filler of Bend, Oregon.

Grandchildren are Rowen DeWitt Higley, Tacoma; Hannah Kenfield, Tacoma; Mitchell Edwards, Ellensburg, Washington; and Chatum Clark and Neva Rose Clark of Sitka. 

Roger is also survived by his extended family, of which he was very fond, in Tacoma and Spokane, Washington, Meridian, Idaho, and Salt Lake City.

Pallbearers are Gordie Harang, Roger Hames, Lloyd Swanson, Stanley Filler Jr., Russel Higley, Jim Charlesworth, Paul Haavig, Kim Hanson, Trevor Harang and Donald Lee.

In lieu of flowers, Roger himself asked for donations to the Sitka Music Festival (P.O. Box 3333); Sitkans Against Family Violence (P.O. Box 6136); or to a charity of their choice.

The family is planning a memorial service for Roger in June. His cremains will be interred at Sitka National Cemetery, with full USCG Military Honors, and under the flagpole at Arrowhead Transfer; Roger’s second home for 32 years. Details will be published in a future edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.

Login Form




At a Glance

(updated 8-17-22)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Wednesday, August 17.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,444

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 277,007

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,296

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,843

Case Rate per 100,000 – 198.11

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "High.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Case Rate per 100,000 – 211.20

Cases in last 7 days – 18

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,022

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






August 2002

 Sitka Trail Works Cross Mountain hike will be held Aug. 17. Hikers should meet at the Herring Cove gate for the six- to eight-hour bushwhack adventure hike that ascends 3,500 feet and is rated difficult. Contact Charles or Chris Horan for further information.


August 1972

From Sitka Seine: Delightful is the only word for the floating sensation you get driving around the Maksoutoff Street side of St. Michael’s Cathedral now that the bottomless pits have been filled and paved over.