Jack and Sasha Calvin.

Jack Calvin (1901 – 1985)

Jack Calvin is an important founder of the oldest conservation group in Alaska. Learn about the fascinating life of Calvin in the following video, from his unique honeymoon expedition to his friendships with author John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts and his dedication to the arduous fight for protecting the Tongass.

Sasha Calvin (1901 – 1971)

Mary Andreeavna Kashevaroff Calvin, known more commonly as Sasha, was born in Sitka, Alaska on July 7th at the turn of the 20th century. Sasha was the daughter of Andrew Pietrovich Kashevaroff, an Orthodox Russian Bishop, and Martha Bolshanin Kashevaroff, a Lingít woman of the Raven Kik.sádi. 

Sasha was a free spirit, with intelligence and wit, who traveled widely. As a child, she followed her father’s transfers by the church across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. In the 1920s, after traveling Europe and temporarily settling down in San Francisco, Sasha moved to Caramel, California. There, she met and fell in love with Jack Calvin, an author who shared her enthusiasm for adventure. Like a magnet, Jack and Sasha attracted many similarly adventurous souls, and their home became a common gathering place for marine biologist and ecologist Ed Ricketts, mythologist Joseph Campbell, photographer Ed Weston, and author John Steinbeck.

In 1929, Jack and Sasha married and, in true fashion, embarked on a less-than-traditional honeymoon; that summer, they paddled over a thousand miles in a Willits Brothers Canoe from Tacoma, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, a voyage that would be later recounted by Jack in a 1933 issue of the National Geographic. By the early 30s, the two newlyweds moved to Sasha's hometown of Sitka, where they founded Sitka Arts and Crafts store, then Sitka Printing Co.

Throughout her life, Sasha was deeply connected to the natural world, and constantly attentive to its ebbs and flows. When she and Jack moved to Southeast Alaska, Sasha would constantly monitor the changes of the seasons, the signs of life around them, and the winds out of the bay. She skillfully fished from the waters, hunted for deer and goat with her husband, and harvested wild foods with her daughters, Lois and Natasha. She shared this attention to the wonder and joys of the Tongass with her daughters and granddaughters, speaking and weaving her Alaska Native and Russian culture and languages with them.

The lands and waters of the Tongass were very much a part of Sasha’s identity, and as she shared these places with her husband, she shared with him her fierce love for it as well. In 1964, Sasha and Jack became charter members of what would become the Sitka Conservation Society. Like many others, they saw the damage being caused by unsustainable practices of a boom-and-bust timber industry, and because of their strong environmentalist leanings and connections to this place, decided to fight to protect it. 

Sasha passed away in 1971 to cancer, leaving behind a legacy that defined both her compassion for the people and natural world around her. She was a fierce, compassionate, deeply intelligent, and adventurous individual; she was foundational to Sitka Conservation Society. Sasha traveled to many places in the world yet always kept a connection to the natural world. Eventually the pull of that connection brought her back to her roots, Sitka, where she shared her knowledge and experience of Southeast Alaska with her husband and family. If not for Sasha's passion and connection with Southeast Alaska, she and Jack would not have come to Sitka and the Sitka Conservation Society would not be what we are today.

We honor Sasha Calvin’s legacy through our Living Wilderness Fund, to continue to protect and support the people and places she so deeply cared for.