Obituary: Barbara Honkala – Lewiston Sun Journal


Barbara honkala

BETHEL – Barbara Honkala, 94, died at her Bethel home on Thursday, October 28, 2021.

Barbara was the epitome of the Mainer. She was independent, autonomous and often a pioneer. Barbara was born in Bethel on July 9, 1927, to her parents Ruth and William Hastings. She attended East Bethel School and Gould Academy and continued her education at the University of Maine.

Her father, Bill, instilled in her a love of the outdoors and the Maine woods before tragically drowning in a boating accident when she was 15. study forestry at this time.

Barbara met her husband, Rudi Honkala, while working at Pinkham Notch. They married in 1950 and shortly thereafter traveled to Alaska where they served as a husband / wife observer team for the US Weather Bureau in the remote village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. Barbara flew in a propeller plane to Nome, Alaska in 1952 to give birth to their first child, William. They returned to the Lower 48 the following year, settled in Salisbury, New Hampshire, and soon welcomed their daughters Vikki and Kristi and another son, Douglas.

In 1956, Barbara agreed to have Rudi set off on a 14-month International Geophysical Year expedition to Antarctica while she and the four children stayed with her mother in Bethel. They communicated with Rudi periodically by amateur radio.

The family moved to Missoula, MT in 1957 and continued their love of the outdoors by camping, canoeing and rafting all summer and skiing all winter. Barbara trained for the ski patrol and became one of the first female members of the national ski patrol.

Rudi made three other Antarctic expeditions during this time, leaving Barbara as the primary parent. She took the kids to the ski area every weekend, she participated in PTA, and from nothing she created some of the most magical Christmas mornings a child could wish for.

When the children were older, she went to work for the Forest Service to study the spruce budworm, which took her to the woods for fieldwork. In 1971, Rudi took a job in Washington, DC, working for Congressman Shoup, and the family made the abrupt move to the East Coast. Barbara rehired with the Forest Service as a botanical illustrator, cartographer, and senior editor of The Silvics Manual, a comprehensive directory of trees in the United States.

She and Rudi retired to a rural property on the Virginia side of the Chesapeake Bay. There were frequent trips back to Montana to visit friends, hike the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and for week-long canoe trips on the Missouri River.

In 1987, they returned to Maine to a log home on the Androscoggin River a few miles from his childhood home in Bethel. Barbara undertook genealogical research and began stories of herself and Rudi’s families. She and Rudi loved to travel to attend FinnAm Society events across the country. She was a member of the Finnish American Heritage Society and edited their newsletter. She joined a quilting club and taught herself to play Finnish Kantele and performed with the Maine Kantele Concert Orchestra. She has volunteered with the Bethel Historical Society, been a leader of the East Bethel Cemetery Association and the Woodland Cemetery Company, and a member of the East Bethel Church Board of Trustees. NOTE: She was a long-time member of the Society of American Foresters. So the!

Barbara was a lifelong learner, career botanist, bird watcher, gardener, artist, musician, adventurer, historian, and an avid supporter of sending birthday cards. His wit was sharp and his memory of names, places, dates and historical events was astonishing, until the end, for which we give a lot of credit to his daily practice of doing crossword puzzles. She will be sadly missed by all who loved her. And without it here, who will we ask “what kind of tree, what kind of flower, what kind of bird is it?” Service plans pending.

Memorials can be made at the Bethel Historical Society or at the Androscoggin Home Healthcare and Hospice.

Barbara honkala

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