Albert Kookesh Dies; Native Leader was 72


Albert Matthew Kookesh


Lifelong Angoon resident and former Alaska state senator Albert Matthew Kookesh, 72, left peacefully at his home on May 28, 2021, his 51st wedding anniversary. He was surrounded by family and loved ones. 

Albert was born Nov. 24, 1948, in Juneau, to Matthew Albert Kookesh of Angoon and Ramona Delores (Herrera) Kookesh, of Carrizozo, New Mexico.  He graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in 1967, where he remains on the school’s basketball Hall of Fame. In 1972 he graduated from, and played basketball for, Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University) and in 1977 earned his juris doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law.

Albert married Sally Marie Woods, of Manley Hot Springs, on May 28, 1970, in Angoon, where they returned to raise their family.  In his professional career, he worked for Kootznoowoo, Inc.; was elected to the Alaska Legislature, where he served in the House from 1997 to 2004 and the Senate from 2004 to 2012; and worked in the administrations of governors Tony Knowles and Bill Walker.

His public service was extensive. He was a member of the Sealaska Corp. board from 1976 until his passing, including as chair for 14 years; was on the Alaska Federation of Natives board as co-chair for 16 years; on the Alaska Native Brotherhood as Grand Camp president and as an executive committee member; was a trustee for the First Alaskans Institute; and a trustee for the Sealaska Heritage Institute. 

“No one even knows everything Albert has done for his community and shareholders. He’s dedicated his whole life to serving his home village of Angoon and the entire region.” Anthony Mallott,  of Sealaska, said.

In addition to his public service, Albert was known for his love of basketball, especially the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, where he helped win 11 championships and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also was known for his love of life as a fisherman; of hunting; his practice and protection of the traditional way of life, subsistence; his mentorship and wisdom; his jokes and “true stories”; and for his extreme love and devotion to his home village of Angoon and his family.

He so loved his time with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. In his final days, he was so proud of his grandchildren for winning the regional high school 1A basketball tournament.

“Albert was a true Aan Yadí – noble person – and his leadership was felt everywhere,” Rosita Worl, Sealaska Heritage Institute, said.

Albert was Eagle of the Teikweidí (Brown Bear) clan, child of the L’eeneidí (Dog Salmon) clan. His Tlingit name was Kaasháan, and he also had the name Yikdahéen.

Albert is survived by his wife Sally; and his children, Elaine Jack and her husband Frank, Jaeleen Kookesh, Reanna Kookesh, Albert Kookesh III and his wife Shiann, Walter Kookesh and his wife Amanda, and Chenara Johnson and her husband Kyle.

Also surviving are his brothers Matthew Kookesh, and Gordon Kookesh (Lisa); his sisters Pauline Duncan (Al), Nellie Kookesh (Matsu), Martha Akagi, and Stella Estrada (Rocky); his uncle Flavio Herrera; his devoted nephew Edward “BeeBucks” Kookesh (Jeannette); his brothers- and sisters-in-law; many nieces and nephews; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his father, Matthew; his mother, Ramona; his brothers Floyd and Edward; his uncle Walter Soboleff; his aunt Mary Nava; his grandson Bentley; and dear friends Clarence Jackson, Byron Mallott, George “Chunky” Henniger, Herbie Bruce, Fred Hopkins, Ivan Gamble, and Gerald “Pooch” Gregory.

A memorial service will be held at the Kevin O’Brien Gymnasium, Angoon High School, in Angoon, 6 p.m. Friday, June 4. Burial will be in Killisnoo at noon, Saturday, June 5.

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At a Glance

(updated 1-12-22)

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 11:55 am Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 2,414

Total statewide – 167,008

Total (cumulative) deaths – 953

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,311

Current Hospitalizations – 81

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 130 new COVID cases in the past 7 days. Case statistics are as of Sunday.

New cases in Sitka – 7

Cases in last 7 days – 130

Cumulative Sitka cases – 1,467

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.





January 2002

Classified ads, Rentals: 3-bdrm. house on the beach. $900; 3-bdrm duplex, washer/dryer $945; Great downtown house, 2 bdrms., 2 baths, furnished,
W/D, hardwood floors $850; 2-bdrm. roomy apartment $945..


January 1972

The City and Borough Assembly Tuesday approved an ordinance establishing a transportation committee to advise the assembly and promote transportation services for the municipality. Members are Cecil McClain, Ray Mabey, Clarence Kramer,
Dick Cushing and Burt Hansen.