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

Budke was active community member


December 13, 2018

Bob Budke and his late wife Polly Budke. Photo courtesy of the Budke family.

Bob Budke was a "wonderful guy," Jerry Blood said. The friends spent time together fishing, hunting, cutting firewood, on road trips, and at church, Budke was a deacon at the Port Chilkoot Bible Church, and "we drank a lot of coffee" in the front room of Budke's cabin overlooking Pyramid Island, Blood said.

"Dad always had time for coffee and cookies," daughter Cheri Hildebrand said. "He was just a very humble, very content man who loved his family and loved the Lord." Budke was a Hospice of Haines volunteer, a "Big Brother" in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, drove the borough people-mover wagon at the cruise ship dock, and rang the Salvation Army kettle bell over the holidays.

He was 87 when he died unexpectedly Nov. 10 at Hildebrand's home in Bartlett, Texas. He had lived with cancer for many years. There will be a memorial service in June, on or near his birthday.

Bob Budke was born June 30, 1931 in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, the fifth of Valberg and John Dedrick Budke's six sons. His father was a private detective and his mother a homemaker. They moved to Seattle when Budke was young, and he grew up there, served in the National Guard, and attended one semester of college when he was offered a summer job in Alaska and "came up here and never left," son Brian said. Initially he worked as a guard on salmon streams, and soon was operating Alaska supply boats for the Seattle office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On the way to the Pribilof Islands he docked in Juneau and met Janaveve "Polly" Louise May where she worked for Fish and Wildlife as a payroll clerk. There were empty staterooms and she decided to go along for the ride. They were married Oct. 20, 1956 by Walter Soboloff at the Northern Lights church in Juneau, and had four children who were raised in Juneau.

Budke was a marine engineer, captain and diver. "Wet suit, dry suit, heated suit, hard hat diver, he did it all," son Chris said. He dove before and after atomic bomb tests on Amchitka and on local wrecks including the Princess Sophia. He especially liked diving under arctic ice. "He never did dive in warm water," son Brian said. He was employed at various times by US Fish and Wildlife, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

While living in Juneau, Budke was a member of the Auke Bay Bible Church. He was an avid hunter, traveling to Yakutat and Chicken to moose hunt, as well as hunting locally for deer in southeast. He was a Mason for over fifty years.

For much of the Budkes' marriage Bob was away working. In1984, with their children grown, he had an opportunity to work for NOAA in Little Port Walter. For eight years they were the only year-round residents of the remote Baranof Island community. Budke told friends he and Polly loved their life there. After he retired in 1991 they settled in Haines. Budke renovated their cabin, and they traveled to Africa in 1998 to help build a church. Polly died at home on Christmas Day 2014 of cancer. "He was lost without her," Hildebrand said.

Bob Budke leaves children Brian (Jeanette) Budke of Haines, Cheri (Thomas) Hildebrand of Bartlett, Texas, Kathy (Dan) Ulrey of Juneau, and Chris (Terri) Budke of Hoonah; nine grandchildren and eighteen great grandchildren.

Budke's Lab Griz was a constant companion to the end.


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