January 18, 1926 – January 7, 2020
Bucky Gans passed away on January 7th after a long and full life. She was the daughter of Harry and Olive Buckner, early settlers in the remote mountain community of Stehekin, Washington at the head of Lake Chelan. Born Elizabeth Joy Buckner but always known simply as “Bucky”, she and her older sisters Irene and Hobbie attended the one-room log cabin elementary school in Stehekin. While she found winters tiresome, she relished hiking and ﬁshing as soon as chores in the family’s apple orchard were done. Bucky was the ﬁrst in her family to attend college and graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in History. She was known for her sharp wit, dry sense of humor, encyclopedic knowledge, and affable nature – traits that served her well throughout an epic life. Bucky kept her friends and family close to her heart despite frequent moves and living on three different continents. She passed peacefully at her home in Goleta, enveloped in the love of her children and extended family.
In 1945, Bucky met an enterprising young Navy veteran, Bill Gans, who was embarking on a mining venture in the rugged Horseshoe Basin at the upper end of the Stehekin valley. They discovered that they shared a thirst for adventure and an afﬁnity for “the road less traveled.” They were married in 1947, and together Bucky and Bill followed his career as a mining engineer across the globe. During their 52 years of marriage, they raised three accomplished children and accumulated friends everywhere they lived: Wenatchee, Washington; Monterrey, Mexico; Bahia, Brazil; Mexico City; London; Houston; and ﬁnally, Goleta, California. Ever the gracious hostess, Bucky was an accomplished cook and baker, and she loved creating delicious Sunday feasts for a constant rotation of family and friends, whom she entertained with her wit, her knowledge of trivia, and her mastery of all things historical (especially British history).
To modern eyes, Bucky was a pioneer woman thrust into the 21st century. She was independent, self-sufﬁcient, quietly determined, and utterly decent and kind to all who crossed her path. Until the ﬁnal months of her life, she made few if any concessions to time. While she lived in many places, her heart was always in the Paciﬁc Northwest in the tiny community of Stehekin. Well into her 80s, Bucky could be found hiking and ﬁshing in the Stehekin Valley, and tales of her octogenarian escapades and adventure travel became family lore. These included bushwhacking and ﬁshing with her 85-year old sister; hot-air balloon rides; rafting down the Grand Canyon at the age of 90; visiting Costa Rica, the Galapagos, and the high Andes of Peru; along with other travel adventures too numerous to list.
Not one to waste words, Bucky was a notorious grammarian—known by her often-scolded grandchildren as “Grammar Bucky,” a moniker she joyfully embraced. She was an equally notorious food conservationist, famous for the “vintage” foodstuffs years past their expiration dates often discovered in her cabinets. She dearly loved to play bridge, devoured crossword puzzles, and read constantly. Her fondness for children and family were often dosed with witticisms: “you spend the ﬁrst year getting them to walk and talk, and the next 17 getting them to sit down and shut up!” Most of all, Bucky was known for her easy-going resilience and adaptability in a life ﬁlled with many upheavals and profound changes.
After Bill’s death in 1999, Bucky began the next chapter in her life by embracing the things she loved the most: gatherings with friends and family and visiting the special places in her life. She and her sisters spent time together traveling, conducting genealogical research and trading stories of their lives growing up in Stehekin. These experiences are vividly described in the book they co-authored, The Stehekin We Remember.
Bucky’s family will cherish the memories of her sharp wit, her abiding generosity, and the evenings spent listening to her tell stories over slices of huckleberry pie, punctuated by a constant stream of gentle, but ﬁrm grammatical corrections.
Predeceased by her husband Bill (1999), her eldest son Carl (2011), and her beloved sisters, Irene and Hobbie, Bucky is survived by her daughter Judy (Joe Kalt); son Phil (Libby); daughter-in-law Debi; ten grandchildren; twelve great-grandchildren; and relatives and close friends in many time zones, too numerous to list but not forgotten. In lieu of ﬂowers, please consider donating to the Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation in her memory.
January 18, 1926 – January 7, 2020