Fiona Humiston dies at 63


October 19, 2023

Photo Courtesy of Keith McPencow

Haines resident Fiona Humiston died in Anchorage on Sept. 18 of organ failure at the age of 63. She was remembered as a gregarious and dedicated friend to hundreds of people she touched throughout her life of travel.

Humiston was born in Melksham, England in 1960. Even as a child, she showed close attachments to animals, caring for Tim, a Welsh mountain pony at a nearby stable. She worked in her mother's restaurant, The Golden Egg, and friends say she would sometimes get into teenage mischief. Janet Matijevic, a friend and coworker at The Golden Egg, recalled Fiona's encyclopedic knowledge about English history and other topics that she studied at the private girls school. "She was just a wealth of knowledge. She was such an interesting human being," said Matijevic.

Eventually, Fiona met her first husband, Bob Humiston, an American serviceman. The two moved to Camp Pendleton in California after their first child, Leroy, was born in 1978. In 1980, their second child, Jennifer, was born. Fiona and Bob separated within a few years and she married Greg Woodin in 1987. After they separated, Fiona drifted up to Southeast Alaska in the early 1990s, first landing in Juneau. Friends weren't entirely sure what brought her up to Alaska, but said she immediately felt at home in nature.

"She just loved the outdoors and nature - I think that's why she stayed in Alaska all those years," said Darla Humiston, a friend.

Fiona worked a variety of jobs in Juneau, cleaning hotels or serving in bars and restaurants. People who met her remembered her ability to connect with just about anybody she met. She liked to talk to people and always asked about family members - even those she'd never met.

"She was really curious about everyone she met. It usually just took a few minutes to find some connection to anybody she talked to," said Keith McPencow, a friend who met Humiston through their dogs. The two would watch each other's dogs, and Humiston made McPencow feel part of her adopted family.

Humiston gravitated north and spent the last six years of her life based out of Haines. She worked as a clerk at Olerud's, at Oceanside RV Park, and at a variety of bars and restaurants in town.She survived a trailer fire in 2019 thanks to her dog Puck, who woke her up in the winter night and pushed her out the door. Puck died in the fire as did her parrot. In the last years of her life, she worked as a home health aide at Haines Assisted Living. Her friend, Marina Clark, said Fiona was a dedicated caregiver.

"Seniors loved her. She put her heart and soul into taking care of them," said Clark.

Friends say Fiona was inquisitive about other people, while reserved about sharing details about her own life.

Earlier this summer, Fiona fell and broke her hip and was medevaced to Anchorage. She stayed in the hospital until she died. She's survived by her two children and her dear cat, Archie.


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