Passing: Susan Stone, longtime teacher, civic volunteer in Ketchikan, active in Republican circles

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Susan Stone gives the commencement address to the Ketchikan High School Class of 2024.

A well-known Republican and civic activist in Ketchikan has passed.

Susan Stone, who was for a several years the president of the Ketchikan District Republicans, died on Saturday after a long battle with cancer.

She will not be forgotten: The first order of business at the Republican State Central Committee quarterly meeting in the Mat-Su Valley on Saturday was a solemn resolution honoring her service.

Stone was a longtime and well-regarded teacher in Ketchikan. Just this week, the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce named her the Grand Marshal for this year’s Fourth of July parade. The chamber wrote about her in its announcement:

“Susan Stone will lead the procession, symbolizing unity, celebration, and the vibrant spirit of Ketchikan,” the chamber wrote, although the group was certainly aware that Stone was on her deathbed and would not likely make it to July 4, much less to the parade.

“We are delighted to have Susan Stone as our Grand Marshal for this year’s Fourth of July Parade,” wrote Trevor Shaw, president of the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce and a close friend of Stone’s. “Her dedication to the community aligns perfectly with the theme of our event. After decades of influencing our youth and community, we are proud to salute her.”

Stone recently retired after teaching in the Ketchikan school district for 27 years, primarily teaching U.S. history, civics, and American government. She was the commencement speaker for the Class of 2024.

“Through her teaching she has worked to instill pride and love for this great country in all her students. She has strived to not only teach them key facts, dates, and milestones, but also to help history come to life and help them become good citizens as they come of age. She has done this by not just teaching them the Bill of Rights and significant Supreme Court cases, but by bringing their government to them,” the Chamber wrote.

“She developed a mock trial program that included a field trip to the courthouse for every senior class for over a decade. She spearheaded the police ride-along program for American Government students. She connected the students to their legislators, including Rep. Don Young, U.S. Senators Stevens, Murkowski, and Sullivan, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, and many other local officials. When her senior students turn 18 she assists them in getting registered to vote. She works to help them see that the government is accessible and that each of them can make a difference. For nearly three decades she has brought our history and government to life for her students in real and practical ways,” the Chamber continued.

Stone even built a World War I-style trench through the middle of her classroom.

Stone took time off from teaching to raise a family, and during that time was a Girl Scout leader, and Girl Scout Council president. Through her work with the Girl Scouts, she empowered young women to be active, engaged citizens from a very young age. She volunteered in many other youth activities, church activities, and community activities of all sorts.

“If you ask her why she did all these things she would say that it was to keep our community going and make it a better place for her daughters and all of the kids in it. Her energy has always been focused on modeling behavior for the generations to come, to help mold active, engaged citizens,” the Chamber said.

Stone’s students have gone on to serve in local elected office; to be doctors, attorneys, businesspeople, teachers, caregivers. Look around this community, and beyond, “and you will find Mrs. Stone’s former students active and engaged in making their communities better, just as she has worked to do for so many decades. She has poured her heart and soul into her teaching each and every day of her career, including many late nights, weekends, and summers. And for the past few years she has done all of that while fighting a mighty battle against cancer. On top of teaching them to be good citizens, she has taught her students something about what it means to be a warrior, too.”

“Literally thousands of Ketchikan’s graduates know what it means to salute and respect our country because of what they learned in Mrs. Stone’s classroom. What better way to recognize this year’s theme of ‘Ketchikan, We Salute You’ than to honor a member of our community who has fostered a love and honor for our community and our country in generations of young people,” the Chamber wrote.

She was born Susan Bullock and lived in Kodiak as a nine-year-old girl with her parents Evelyn and the Rev. Don Bullock when the 1964 earthquake hit. Stone is the mother of Stacey Stone, who has served as legal counsel for the Alaska Republican Party for many years, and two other grown children.