Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Arbuckle a founder of Covenant Life


Evelyn Arbuckle

A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Sunday, March 23 at the Covenant Life Center tabernacle for Evelyn Arbuckle.

Arbuckle was instrumental in the creation of the Covenant Life Center farm community on Chilkat Lake Road.

Resident Tim Maust said his mother died at his home of natural causes. She was 94 and had been housebound since moving here four years ago. Arbuckle also spent about five years in Haines following the death of Maust's wife in 1989, helping care for her granddaughters.

From her home city of Canton, Ohio, Arbuckle became involved in the international Christian farm group during its formative years, rising to its 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 a farm community in Hoonah.

After checking out the recently purchased Haines property in September 1976, the plane 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 tale of her survival – three days spent in the wilderness subsisting on berries and rainwater – is documented in Larry Kanuit's, "Cheating Death: Amazing Survival Stories from Alaska."

Arbuckle chose not to settle at the Haines farm. Instead, she and her son moved to Palmer, where they operated Wilderness Farms, a commercial dairy with 385 cows that also supplied Anchorage grocers with potatoes.

Arbuckle opened a church community home in Eagle River and for 22 years operated the Robin House Bed and Breakfast in Anchorage, which served as a hospitality house for church members. "She was known as a gracious hostess and careful businesswoman, as well as an accomplished gardener," said granddaughter Sherri Maust. "Her favorites, geraniums, petunias and alyssum adorned the hillside and smelled so sweet to her guests."

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 20 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, Fla.; her brother Paul Knoch; seven grandchildren, and many great grandchildren, nieces, nephews. Her family is grateful to Hospice of Haines, Cornerstone, and the Haines clinic for their long and "gracious" end-of-life care.


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