Six Alaskans earn way into Parade salary survey

Cantwell resident ranks last among magazine's earners

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2001

Six Alaskans, including Sitkan Jan Straley, have earned their way into today's edition of Parade Magazine, which lists jobs and salaries for 150 Americans. Ages and home towns are also included with their photos.

Straley appears on page 14, identified as a 47-year-old marine biologist making $38,000. She seemed genuinely embarrassed about being in a publication that reaches 37 million readers.

"I'm really glad we don't get Parade Magazine over here," said Straley, referring to Sitka. "What do they have, 100 people (listed in the magazine), who's going to read all those?"

Actually, readers are very interested in what others do and make for a living.

Parade senior editor Dakila Divina said the annual report on "What People Earn," has grown from 11 people to the 150 since it started 18 years ago.

"It's one of the most popular and most widely read issues of the year," Divina said. "People are most interested in salary. The other information, like age, helps put it in context."

Journalists throughout the country help Parade by suggesting candidates for the annual survey.

Actors, singers and athletes lead the parade of wage earners in this year's report. Bruce Willis is listed at $54.4 million, Shania Twain at $48 million and Shaquille O'Neal at $31 million.

At the low end is Alaskan Lauralee Matlock, 41. The Cantwell dog fur spinner, who makes $1,400 a year, appears on page 7. Right next to her is Jimmie Hoke, 48, a Texan who earns $65,000 as a massage therapist for horses.

"They are absolutely two of my favorites," Divina said. "Those are the ones that people talk about and remember well after they pick up their Parade on Sunday."

Matlock, whose husband works seasonally for the state Department of Transportation, knows that her job and salary will raise eyebrows.

She makes hats by blending dog hair with wool.

"Some people think you actually have to kill the dog to spin their fur," Matlock said. "I think this will blow some people's minds in Iowa and Georgia. They can't conceive of people getting by on such a small amount of money."

The four other Alaskans in today's Parade are: Chris Napoli, 36, Dillingham retail manager, $51,000 (page 4); Shirene Krull, 33, Wasilla nurse's aide, $24,000 (page 5); Russ Rolf, 46, Dillingham grounds maintenance, $38,000 (page 8); and Laine Welch, 52, Kodiak fisheries journalist, $55,000 (page 13).

Welch is a media consultant who produces a weekly column called the Fish Factor, which runs locally on the KINY Web site.

"It's a hoot to be selected," Welch said. "As far as the age thing, I look 10 years younger."

Straley, whose husband John is a well-known mystery novelist, never expected to be in Parade. She agreed to be a candidate for the annual salary report as a favor to a mutual friend who freelances for Parade.

"I hate to say no to people, but I figured the risk (of being picked) was pretty low," she said. "I thought it was a joke when they called to say they might use me."

Mike Sica can be reached at

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