Posted on 02/12/2013 Evan Swensen
LeNora Josephine Quint Huntley Conkle, age 103, passed away quietly at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home on Thursday, February 7, 2013.
LeNora was incredibly important to us here at Publication Consultants. We respected her as an Alaskan pioneer, and appreciated her confidence in us as her publisher. Every new venture in business is risky, and we were still uncertain if our success thus far was just a fluke, or something we should continue.
LeNora had no uncertainty about us. She was a definite kind of person.
Her book, Hunting the Way it Was, was the eighth book we published, back in 1997. Her second, Bush Pilots’ Wives, came along later, in November 2000.
But you can imagine how excited we were to publish Hunting the Way it Was for LeNora Conkle. (It has gone through three printings, and yes, she also decided to offer it as an eBook.?
LeNora’s writing style was straight from the hip, direct and unembellished. And informed as they say, by her years of living in the bush.
From Bush Pilots’ Wives, LeNora describes some aspects of her life:
Another one of my jobs as a bush pilot’s wife was driving the new Chrysler station wagon to go to Anchorage for grocery supplies, meeting the clients on their arrival at Gulkana Air Field and returning them after their hunts.
The real challenge for me was on the Nabesna Road. The four wheel drive Jeep or the pickup could cross those creeks that were running across the road (no bridges). . . . I often had to lay planks across a creek. Planks two feet wide . . . were left alongside the road just for these needs. I would put my hip-boots on and check for the shallowest crossing.
When driving the station wagon it meant putting a plank in front of each wheel and staying on the plank until I crossed. . . . Only once did I slide off on a back wheel . . . I could change a tire or do most things that it took to get running again.
LeNora was born and raised in Idaho, but ended up divorced and alone in San Diego after her early marriage failed. But she still had a dream—to move to Alaska. Bud Conkle served as a Marine in World War Two, and thought Alaska sounded like his kind of place, too. They drove up the Alaska Highway right after the war came to an end.
They set out to explore every part of Alaska’s Interior they could find by Jeep, canoe, and dog sled, looking for their own paradise, where they would live, work, and raise their family.
The Alaska Trappers Association posted a synopsis of their oral history interview with LeNora Conkle, which is marked with star noting its “New” status at http://www.alaskatrappers.org/bio_sketch_lenora_conkle.html. On their site, for a nominal fee, you can order the CD of the interview with her.
A small service was held Saturday, February 9, 2013 at the Pioneer Home in Fairbanks, with a full memorial service planned for this summer in the Copper River Basin.
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Evan Swensen, Publisher
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