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LeNora Josephine (Quint, Huntley) Conkle, age 103, passed away peacefully at the Fairbanks Pioneer Home on Thursday, February 7, 2013. A small service was held at the Pioneer Home on the 10th and a Celebration of Life will be planned for this. summer in the Copper River Basin, where her ashes will be scattered over the Eagle Trail Ranch.
LeNora was born on a small ranch near Hazleton, Idaho on August 10, 1909. She was the third of ten children born to Jesse Dudley and Olga Elfrieda Otille (Mueller) Quint. She graduated from Boise High School and then married Alonzo D. Huntley on August 28, 1927. They had three children: Glen Alonzo, Richard Lloyd and Jessie “Fay”. LeNora and Al were divorced in 1940 in California.
During the tight rations and hard times of World War II, LeNora shared a large house with two of her sisters in San Diego, California. By pooling their finances and skills, they managed to have a comfortable life while raising their children.
LeNora came to Alaska in June 1946 with new husband, Clement M. “Bud” Conkle, both in their late 30s. They spent several years living and working in Fairbanks. After a winter in Nabesna, they decided that Lake Tanada, on the north side of the Wrangell Mountains, was the place for them. They began working on a small farm on the southwest coast, using a dog bucket to transport necessary materials. The following summer/fall, while Bud was learning to fly, LeNora gave birth to their son, Colin. They backpacked and dogsled to and from Nabesna Road for a few years until they could afford a J-3 Cub plane.
Bud and LeNora were soon in the guided fishing and hunting business while adding to their log cabin on Lake Tanada. They expanded their hunt to: mountain goat near Katalla, brown bear on the Alaska Peninsula, and polar bear on the Arctic Peninsula. The couple welcomed many, many visitors over the years. More than a few of their fishing and hunting customers made return trips more than once.
In the 60s, they began developing a 160-acre farm on Cobb Lake; near Mile 57 off the Tok Cutoff, which they called Eagle Trail Ranch. A 1¼-mile driveway widened into oat and hay fields doubled as an airstrip for the J-3 Cub. They both loved horses and soon had more than 20 to use at their new guide area called Wolf Lake, on the north side of the Nutzotin Mountains, just 20 miles from the Canadian border. Bud was licensed as a Registered Guide for many years, then earned “Master Guide #19” in 1974.
LeNora could cook a meal for virtually any given number of guests at any time. She loved to pick berries in the summer and always had a large garden. She used to say that she had “always known” how to sew, and her interior design skills developed in San Diego served her well for Alaskan life – making tents, sleeping bags, airplane wings, engine covers and lots of leather and fur items, made in the quiet times when Bud was away guiding hunts. She also tutored Colin at home for many years.
In 1976, they moved from the small 3-room cabin on the farm to the new, modern log house they had built themselves in the early 60s. LeNora loved that house! There was suddenly space…space to have a sewing corner, plenty of space for their book collection, and most importantly, a “trophy room” where Bud could display his trophies.
Bud died suddenly in February “85” and LeNora spent the next 10 winters traveling, visiting her children and grandchildren, while spending the summers at her beloved Eagle Trail Ranch, working in her garden and writing. (LeNora is the published author of five books about their life in Alaska). In 1995, she sold Eagle Trail Ranch and moved to the North Pole, where her oldest son, Glen Huntley, came to be with her until he died in 2007. Her granddaughter, Corri Conkle, stepped in to continue her care. At age 99, LeNora decided it was time to go to Pioneer Home, where she lived until her passing on February 7, 2013.
On February 10, 2010, LeNora was honored as an “Alaska Pioneer: by the twenty-sixth Alaska Legislature, she was the Grand Marshal of the 2011 Fourth of July parade in Fairbanks, and in August 2012, she was recognized by NBC’s Willard Scott as “A Centenarian.”
For her 100th birthday, three days of celebration were held in Fairbanks and the North Pole with many of her family and friends. LeNora had always maintained a huge typed, then handwritten correspondence with hundreds of people, including the children and grandchildren of some of their earliest hunting clients; She continued to write letters until a few days before her death.
LeNora was predeceased by her parents and eight of her siblings, as well as her two sons Glen & Dick Huntley. She is survived by her sister, Elizabeth Richmond of Napa, California, daughter Fay Smith of Spanaway Washington, son Colin Conkle of North Pole and many great, great and great great grandchildren. LeNora will be greatly missed by all who knew her indomitable spirit.
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