Former Sitka Teacher Eugene Buchholz Dies

Eugene (Gene) Arthur Buchholz

Eugene (Gene) Arthur Buchholz, retired music teacher, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, and friend, died peacefully, surrounded by his family, on April 30, 2023. He was 80.

Gene was born June 15, 1942, in Valley City, North Dakota, and grew up on his family’s farm in nearby Fingal.

After graduating from high school, he attended North Dakota State University, majoring in music. While at college, he met the love of his life, Karen. The two of them were married in August 1965 in Belfield, North Dakota. After the wedding, Karen returned to Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and Gene took a music teaching job in Tolna, North Dakota, and the two saw each other on weekends and holidays. 

When Karen finished school, they moved to Greeley, Colorado, where Gene got his master’s degree in music education.

Soon after, an adventurous opportunity arose for Gene and Karen to teach music in Sitka, Alaska. They jumped at the chance, planning to stay two years. They stayed for 29.

Gene taught every grade of music during those years, instilling in his students a passion for music and inspiring them to reach their full potential in life. His students still remember his beautiful voice and the songs he taught them. During that season of life in Sitka, they developed amazing lifelong friendships, raised two fantastic children (Kit and Dan), and enjoyed all the beauties Alaska has to offer.

While in Sitka, Gene fell in love with the water (Karen hated it!), did some commercial fishing, and explored Southeast Alaska in any kind of boat he could find. After trying out multiple vessels, he found the one that spoke most to his heart was a sailboat. He built many, repaired numerous, and LOVED every one. He sailed most of them, hit a few rocks, and eventually gave sailing lessons. He started Waltzing Bear Sailing Charters and shared his love for the water with anyone he could (because Karen wouldn’t go).

After retiring from teaching, Gene and Karen moved to Seattle to sail in Seattle Sound (well, Karen didn’t sail, but she knitted and worked for the Port of Seattle) and enjoy some of the things they had given up to live in Alaska. 

When Karen retired they took a camper and pickup (loaded with Karen’s yarn) and traveled half of the United States, west of the Mississippi River, and parts of Mexico. While traveling they found where they thought they would live the rest of their lives,  in Pullman, Washington. They spent seven years on the Palouse. A medical incident changed their lives, and left Gene paralyzed and in a wheelchair.

Gene and Karen moved to Omaha in April 2020 to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law, and five grandsons, leaving their son to care for their property in Pullman. The joy of Gene’s life in Omaha was visiting and playing guitar and singing with his grandsons.

In September 2022, Gene and Karen moved into Immanuel Village Independent Living, where they found many new friends and a new way of living in community.

Gene is survived by his wife of 57 years, Karen; daughter Kit Fox (Brian); son, Dan (Carolyn); seven grandsons, Anthony and Devin Buchholz, and Paul, Aaron, Stephen, Caleb, and James Fox; one great-grandson, Jesse Eugene; six siblings, Judy Sudnikovich (Roger), Ken Buchholz, Stan Buchholz (Marcia), Sylvia Schlagel (Perry), Tim Buchholz (Peg), and Jeff Buchholz (Julie); and numerous nieces and nephews.

Gene lived his life to the fullest, not complaining about the challenges, because he believed he was “too blessed to be stressed.” Gene knew where he was going to spend eternity and looked forward to being in heaven.

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