Sealaska Director Ross Soboleff died Monday after a battle with cancer.
He was the son of the Tlingit scholar, elder, and Presbyterian minister Dr. Walter Soboleff Sr. and Genevieve Ross, and was active in the Tlingit and Haida communities throughout his life in Southeast Alaska.
He served as the vice president for communications for Sealaska for several years.
In the past two years he was a strong supporter of Must Read Alaska, and sent several kind notes of encouragement, as well as financial support for the work of independent political reporting.
The last time this writer saw him was in the Capitol in January, and he was wearing a Must Read Alaska beanie, as he often did around Juneau during the final winter of his life.
Soboleff was elected to the Sealaska Board of Director as an independent candidate in 2014 and re-elected last year. He was known as intelligent and respectful, with a good heart and a wise soul.
Soboleff worked as an aide to former Rep. Eric Feige in the Alaska Legislature for two years. It was from Feige that he first learned about Must Read Alaska. He also worked for Rep. Dan Saddler while Saddler was vice chair of Finance for two years.
“He was a gifted writer,” Saddler recalled. “Ross was a gentle man with a gracious manner that masked a very keen mind and a great political sense. He was an excellent staffer, but after work hours he could play a mean mandolin, add sweet harmony to any song, and made the world a better place just by being there. I am blessed to have called him my friend, and tremendously saddened that I will see him no more, at least in in this life. My sincere condolences to Jane and the entire Soboleff family on his passing.”
Kim Skipper, a longtime aide to Saddler, wrote: “I lost a dear friend yesterday, Ross Soboleff. He was a wonderful friend and co-worker. Ross was soft spoken and a sweet man. He was thoughtful and considerate. I enjoyed his texts during the interims and when he stopped by the Capitol office even when we didn’t work together. Rest In Peace Ross.”
Soboleff graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1969, and the University of Oregon, was a gifted writer, small business owner, and a fisherman who recently had been living in Tenakee, building an addition on his house there, and running his communications consultancy, RVS Communications.
In November he wrote that he was finishing his 25-ton license with the U.S. Coast Guard.
Aside from his work with Sealaska and the Legislature, Soboleff was a writer, small business owner, and fisherman. He was Haida and Tlingit, Eagle/Sgalans, Killisnoo and Howkan.
He is survived by his wife, Jane Lindsey, his children and grandchildren.