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SITKA - With nearly 60 percent of the shares represented in person or by proxy at the 33rd annual meeting of Shee Atiká, the Alaska Native claims urban corporation for Sitka shareholders, met on June 16 and voted to return two long-serving directors and elect a replacement for a retiring director.
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Gene Bartolaba of Sitka, first elected in 1986, and Francine Eddy Jones of Juneau (elected in 1995), were returned for three-year terms, and Sitka optometrist Dr. Pamela Steffes was elected to her first term on the corporation's nine-member board of directors. Steffes replaces Ethel Staton, who retired from the board after serving as a director since the founding of the corporation.
Re-elected to officer positions were Marion Williams Berry, as chair; Loretta Ness, as vice chair; Gene Bartolaba, as secretary; Francine Eddy Jones, as treasurer; and Robert G. Loiselle, as president.
During the annual meeting, the corporation's directors took the opportunity to honor Staton for her more than 30 years of service on the board. At various times, she served as corporate secretary and as board chairman.
"Today, Shee Atiká is one of the most successful Native corporations in Alaska, with over $100 million in assets, most held in our trust, SAFE," said Berry, who was first elected to the board in 1997 and has served as chair since 2000. "It is easy to forget that a little over 20 years ago, law suits had forced us to the brink of bankruptcy. It took the steadfast determination of directors like Ethel to keep our corporation going."
By resolution, Staton was named director emeritus and chairman emeritus of Shee Atiká. in recognition of her long service, her role in founding the corporation, and her contributions that led to the eventual prosperity the corporation now enjoys.
In the early 1970s, Staton served on Shee Atiká's predecessor, the nonprofit Sitka Native Association. In 1974, she wrote a personal check to incorporate the organization as a profit-making ANCSA corporation under the Tlingit name for Sitka, Shee Atiká. Originally, 1,851 shareholders were enrolled. Today, through inheritance and the gifting of shares, there are approximately 2,400 Shee Atiká shareholders.
Staton was born in Ketchikan to Tsimshian and Yugoslavian parents. She married Norman Staton in 1944, and 10 years later the couple moved to Sitka where they opened the Pioneer Grill. In 1968, they built and opened Staton's Steakhouse, a well-known landmark in Sitka for many years. Their children, Norman Staton Jr. and Candi Barger and families, live in Sitka.
Now a widow, Ethel remains active as the owner of the Log Cache Gifts and Jewelry, a trustee of the Sheldon Jackson College and a member of the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct.