Kendall Gordon Branch
1932-Dec. 10, 2015
Homer resident Kendall Gordon Branch departed this life for his next big adventure on Dec. 10, 2015. Kendall was born in Cordova in 1932 to Gordon Thomas and Eva Davis Branch of Chitina. Kendall’s grandparents were Harry Kendall (H.K.) and Mamie Davis, also of Alaska.
In Kendall’s early years, the family moved around Alaska, living a subsistence lifestyle in the pre-statehood days and doing various things to bring in cash; farming, mining, running a roadhouse, playing music, trapping, building, running a feed store, fishing.
They eventually settled in Homer in the early 1940s. Kendall helped out his grandparents, H.K. and Mamie Davis, at their home and large garden on Kachemak Drive, (where Second Star is now) and at their feed store on what is now East End Road. That building still stands, and is now Dr. Huffman’s office.
When Kendall’s mother Eva married Stanley Nielsen of Miller’s Landing area, Kendall gained a lifelong friend and mentor as well as a stepfather. They had many adventures together, and loved to go on skiing expeditions to cabins they built, build boats, fish in the lakes, rivers and streams and in Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet, snowshoe, trap and hunt. Kendall helped Stanley and Eva build their home in what is now Kachemak City, and later built several buildings around Homer, including the Sourdough Express building and his beautiful home and shops in Bear Canyon, out East End Road. He liked to use local materials where possible, and used river rock to build his large shop and small office building. He also built several recreational cabins in the area, and a home in Camp Verde, Ariz.
Kendall graduated from Homer High School and joined the Army, where he learned his trade, surveying. After a stint in Hawaii building roads on the Big Island with the Corp of Engineers, he returned to Alaska. His long and distinguished career surveying all over what was to become the 49th state started in the early 1950s with the Alaska Road Commission in their road construction effort. Kendall’s survey work is well known by his peers to be reliable, precise and meticulous. As one of his surveying peers, Jerry Anderson stated, “Ken had only one surveying standard, and that was perfection. He came closer to achieving that goal than most.”
Kendall was known for his love of fun, the outdoors, and animals, and his ability to accomplish so much. He could often be found working on his house or shop, or on one of several boats he built, preparing to go out sport and subsistence fishing on Kachemak Bay. Ken was fun to be around, with his positive attitude, playful nature and can-do spirit. He was always a true gentleman, usually with a smile on his face and a funny story.
Kendall is survived by Elizabeth McBride (daughter Angela Pellegrino) of Anchorage, Art Branch of Tacoma, Mike Branch of Fort Worth, Mimi Tolva (sons Kyle and Ian Tolva) of Homer, Becky Horton (sons Michael and Bryce Horton) of Soldotna, Christopher Branch (daughter Erika Galloway) of Homer, Melinda Patterson of Washington, Heidi Johnsrud (husband Craig and children Ashleigh and Gracie Johnsrud and Stephen Wortman) of Kenai, and cousin Suzi Nielsen Luzadder of Homer. He is preceded in death by his parents and grandparents, stepson Stephen Kohout, son in law Mike Tolva, and wife Nancy Branch.
Services will be held at the Homer United Methodist Church at 770 East End Road in Homer on June 4, 2016, at 2 p.m. Refreshments will be served immediately following the service. Kendall will be laid to rest at the family cemetery on East End Road.
If you would like to share a story or memory of Kendall, please send it to Mimi Tolva, Box 2117 Homer, AK 99603.