Floyd Emmanuel Heimbuch, the last man standing from a family of 11 children, who grew up in the Dakotas during the Great Depression, died peacefully on the evening of Nov. 29, 2021. He was 95 years old. He was preceded in death by his wife Bonnie Lee, and three of his five children – Connie Lee, Karl Earnest and Douglas Stewart Heimbuch. He is survived by two sons, Paul Dean and Michael Heimbuch; grandchildren, Hannah and Ivan Heimbuch, and Ben and Matt Hoback; and daughters-in-law, Suzie Kendrick and Ann Heimbuch.
Floyd and his wife Bonnie came to Alaska in 1952 as some of the first caucasian people to live and work in Unalakleet. Both spent their lives working primarily as educators in the public schools and university system in Anchorage where they raised their five children. Later in life they moved to Soldotna and lived on the river for several decades.
In the 1950s, Floyd and Bonnie would drive down the Alcan in the summer to finish their graduate degrees at Chadron State College in Nebraska, with car-sick kids and endless peanut butter sandwiches. And in the ‘60s they spent two years at the University of Texas getting doctorate degrees and still drove 5,000 miles with family each way in the summer to commercial fish.
Floyd and Bonnie had strong and resolute religious beliefs that were softened over the years by life’s realities and their confidence in thinking through their beliefs without undue concern for the dogma of the church. Floyd was fond of saying that he goes to church “not for theological conformity, but for spiritual unity.” That statement made a profound impact on a family that grew up in the tumultus ‘60s when all manner of belief and custom was challenged like never before.
He was known by all for a warm and gentle sense of humor, but he was human. And you cannot live to be 95 without those close to you knowing your greatnesses and your limitations. We send him off hoping to remember only the good in the hopes that others do the same for us as our time comes to leave.