Evelyn Arbuckle

1919
2014

There will be a memorial service Sunday at 11 at the Covenant Life Center tabernacle for Evelyn Arbuckle. Tim Maust said his mother died at his home of natural causes. She was 94 and had been housebound since moving in with him four years ago. 

 
Prior to that, Arbuckle spent about five years in Haines following the death of Maust’s wife in 1989, to help care for her granddaughters, Sherri and Cheryl.
She was instrumental in the creation of the Covenant Life Center farm community on the Chilkat Lake Road.
 
From her home city of Canton, Ohio she became involved in the international Christian farm group, which has 27 communities around the world, during its formative years, and rose to the leadership council when the church’s mission was creating remote self-sufficient farm-centered communities where followers could live and worship free of distractions. She promoted a Haines farm following the successful founding of the Hoonah farm. 
 
After checking out the recently purchased Haines property on September 13, 1976 the private Beechcraft BE 35 Bonanza she and her husband were passengers in became lost in the fog on its way back to Hoonah and crashed and burned on a mountainside near Point Couverden. The three passengers and pilot survived the crash, however the pilot who was a friend, and Arbuckle’s husband, Don, later died.
 
The tale of her survival is documented in Larry Kanuit’s, “Cheating Death: Amazing Survival Stories from Alaska.”  Though suffering from burns and bruises, Evelyn and another Hoonah farm woman, cared for the more severely injured for two stormy days, surviving on rainwater and blueberries. After Don died, they left the pilot, who was fading quickly as well, in search of help. They spend another night in the mountains, singing hymns to ward of bears, and on the fourth day managed to scramble to a beach and flag down a boat of deer hunters.
 
The women, both devout Christians, credited God. “Mother had a heavy coat. She was geared up for the trip, and that was a good thing too,” Tim Maust said. Arbuckle chose not to settle at the Haines farm, and instead she and her son moved to Palmer where they operated Wilderness Farms, a 385 head dairy that also supplied Anchorage grocers with potatoes.
 
Seven years later Arbuckle opened a church community home in Eagle River and then spent twenty-two years operating the Robin House Bed & Breakfast in Anchorage, which served as a hospitality house for church members.
 
“She was known as a gracious hostess and careful businesswoman,” granddaughter Sherri Maust said, as well as a wonderful gardener. “Her favorites, geraniums, petunias and alyssum adorned the hillside and smelled so sweet to her guests,” Sherri said.
 
Arbuckle’s hand sewn wedding dress for daughter-in-law Bernadette Maust won champion in its class at the Southeast Alaska State Fair. In her final years, she enjoyed her local church group and family.
 
Arbuckle was born in Canton, Ohio May 24, 1919 to Esther Ellen Jago Knoch and Arthur Knoch.  Her family owned A.A, Knoch & Sons construction company, whose projects included the Football Hall of Fame, Tim Maust said. She was married at twenty and had three children, rearing them in Canton. She was a homemaker and very active in her church as well as the family business. “She was a business lady, no doubt about it. It said ‘Sons’ but she was a partner,” Maust said.
 
Her husbands and brother Donald precede Arbuckle in death. She is survived by  children Tim of Haines, Greg Maust of Washington D.C. and Bonnie Berkovich of Naples, Florida; her brother Paul Knoch; seven grandchildren, and many great grandchildren, nieces, nephews.
 
Her family is grateful to Hospice of Haines, Cornerstone, and SEARHC for their long and  “gracious” end of life care. 
 
 
 
 

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