L to R: Al Hammock, Libby Stortz, Mark Gorman, and Matt Christner installed a memorial plaque to the late William Stortz on Saturday (4-9-16).

On Saturday (4-09-16), city staff, friends, and family of William Stortz installed a brass memorial plaque at Sitka Public Library in his memory. The plaque rests on a stone with a story behind it.

William Stortz died in the August 18th landslides in Sitka. As the city’s building official, Stortz was involved with numerous capital and construction projects. A few days prior, Stortz was hard at work with Matt Christner on the renovation of Kettleson Memorial Library (now Sitka Public Library).  Christner worked with Stortz at SEARHC for 23 years.

Shortly after the landslide, Christner suggested to City Administrator Mark Gorman that they find a rock amid the Kramer Avenue slide debris, close to where William was last seen, and place it one of the exterior stone walls of the library.

Gorman, Christner, and his wife Naomi sought the appropriate rock. In an e-mail to KCAW, Gorman said, “[Matt and I] saw it at the same time: it was egg shaped and river rounded, lying in the middle of the newly formed, landslide drainage channel. The violence of the slide had neatly cleaved it in half, exposing a raw Sitka graywacke face, framed by a smooth earthen colored shell.”

Naomi and Matt carried the rock down the hill. They went to the home of Libby and Sasha Stortz, William’s wife and daughter, to seek their permission. Together, they selected the rock’s future home on the ocean-facing exterior wall of Sitka Public Library. Al Hammock created a plaque for the rock.

In his e-mail, Gorman said, “[The rock] will be visited by friends and family, battered by storms, warmed by sunshine, sung to by an orchestra of birds and enveloped by the rich smells of the sea: the key elements of William’s sustenance while he was with us.”