Evan Paul Cundiff
April 24, 1928-May 15, 2017
Evan Paul Cundiff, born April 24, 1928, in Wheeling, W. Va., died May 15, 2017. Grandson of a Civil War veteran, Evan grew up with two brothers in the foothills of the Appalachians. His father worked for a dairy company and after high school Evan followed suit in that employment. He served in the Korean War in Japan and received an honorable discharge in 1952. After that he headed west to California.
Evan met the love of his life, Virginia, in Santa Monica, Calif., while they were both working for Douglas Aircraft. Virginia was from Chillicothe, Mo., and had traveled to Santa Monica to stay with friends. They were married in 1953 and had three sons in short order, Jeff, Doug and Barry, all born in California. Not content with life in California and always eager for opportunities, Evan learned that there were still homesteading plots available in Alaska. Along with another couple, Evan and Virginia began to plan a trip to Alaska. Virginia wasn’t really the adventurous type, but as the story goes …
The other couple bailed on the Alaska dream, so in May 1958, Evan alone drove a fully packed Army truck up the graveled Alcan Highway and claimed one of the last homesteads closest to Homer off the Sterling Highway. He befriended another adventurer on the way who stayed and helped build a rough-cut lumber home. With three baby boys in tow, Virginia flew up a week before Christmas hoping the cabin was liveable. It was and they stayed, calling Homer home for the next 55 years.
Homestead life was rustic and especially trying at times for Virginia as Evan often took employment away from home. He worked a variety of odd jobs in the early years, including one year as dock manager on the Homer Spit which was a good memory for the boys. Finally having saved enough money, much to Virginia’s relief, he was able to take time off from an offshore oil rig job to build the family a new home. Afterwards he picked up oil work again as an operator on a stationary platform in the Cook Inlet and then on the North Slope where he retired from in the late 1970s.
In between all that, in the early years of homesteading Evan and Virginia were active in the Homer Little Theatre group. He loved to share those memories along with stories of those odd jobs he picked up in remote coastal places. Evan told a good tale. After retirement he became interested in computers and investing, gardening, tinkering with building and working out. He accumulated an extensive library on all sorts of self-help and do-it-yourself topics. He then spent several years lovingly caring for his wife, who he lost in April 2013.
In 2014, Evan decided to sell the homestead and join his surviving brother in a retirement community in Port St. Lucie, Fla. He really liked it there and was very active in the community, meeting lots of new people. He also enjoyed travelling to his old hometown and visiting old schoolmates, taking Caribbean cruises and even sky-diving which he was working towards getting certified in this past spring.
But after all the cold years in Alaska he couldn’t get enough of the warm water, so most of his time there was spent swimming in the pool and relaxing in the hot tub and jacuzzi spa. He was a healthy 89-year-old senior, working on plans to travel to California later this summer to visit a granddaughter, daughter-in-law and new great-granddaughter, followed by a fall trip back to Alaska to celebrate the first birthday of one of his great-grandsons when he abruptly fell ill. Surprising everyone, Evan passed away of respiratory failure due to Legionella Pneumonia.
Evan was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia; middle son, Doug, who died at sea in 1989, and his brother, Butch.
Evan is survived by his brother, Jack; sons, Jeff and Barry, and son Scott from a previous marriage; grandchildren, Sheena, Shanda, Kayla, Alexis, Bryce and Chase; and great-grandchildren, Mateo Evan, Liliana, Makai and Jayce.
Evan lived his life head-on and didn’t give time to moaning about the passing of it. He freely gave advice and loved nothing better than bellying up to the table for a good long debate on the state of the world. His politics were often in a realm beyond liberal/conservative.
Evan’s ashes will be placed with his loving wife Virginia’s on Mt. Augustine. A celebration of his life will be held at a later date. In his honor, have a spirited conversation with someone who views things differently than you. He would have happily joined in.