“Bud” passed away on March 26, 2020, at Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer, Alaska. The oldest of ten children, Bud was born to Harry & Clara Longenecker on January 17, 1931, in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. He grew up on the farm in Maryland and joined the Army during the Korean War, at which point he was sent to Alaska in 1953. After an honorable discharge from the military, he remained in Alaska and worked as a salvage man and tow truck driver. It was this position that brought him to meet his future wife, Mary, when she called to be pulled out of a snowbank.
Bud took his time getting there and upon his arrival, she had already dug herself out of the snow, but Bud felt he should still be paid. She refused to pay since she had done all the work but promised to make him a chocolate cake. Bud never left her side after that and they were married at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage on February 10, 1956, when their adventure began.
They homesteaded in the Knik area where they built the now Knik Knack Mud Shack Road off KGB. Homesteading was a hard life but they were committed, turning the homestead into farmland.
Bud and Mary had two children, Ruthann and Larry, and raised their family in Anchorage. Bud and Mary loved children and started taking foster children. Over their life, they had 30+ foster children they loved and cared for. They adopted their last foster child, Felicia. Bud loved animals and started buying horses. He became an active member of the Chugach Range Riders and rode in many parades. With the kids being active in 4-H, they became 4-H leaders and started the first “horseless” 4-H club. Kids could be active with horses and participate in shows and yet not have to own a horse. This was a big success and he continued it until 1971 when he decided “Anchorage was too big” and he moved the family to the homestead permanently. Bud made the first electric horse walker for Diamond H Ranch and helped in establishing the Alaska Zoo. They raised and showed Great Danes and were active in the Great Dane club hosting many picnic events. During their 4-H career, they also became involved in ceramics and upon moving to the homestead, they started the Knik Knack Mud Shack ceramic shop, which still operates today. In 1972 he became a Duncan Certified Ceramic Teacher and was a member of the International Assn of Duncan Certified Teachers for 37 years.
Bud turned the homestead into a working farm with horses, cows, chickens and anything else he could find. He had a zoo license and started a mini-zoo and had such animals as a fox, black bear, deer, raccoon, peacock and on and on. Bud loved Alaska and its history and started collecting artifacts, which he would later display in the museum he would build on the homestead, rightfully called the Homestead Museum. Bud went to work for the Alaska State Fair in 1972. He was the first year-round employee and served as the Grounds Manager there for 32 years. Bud was an icon at the Fair. He helped to build the Hermon Brothers Field. He brought the first petting zoo to the Fair. He was responsible for starting the flower program on the fairgrounds that still flourishes today and provides us with much beauty during our visits to the Fair. He devoted his life to the Fair while still running the ceramic shop, farming, building the museum collection and helping as many people as he could along the way. He was big-hearted and would do anything for anyone. In 1992, Mary died as the result of a car accident and Bud carried on their adventure with the family.
Bud met Linda Vojtech through ceramics and she became his life partner for 13 years. Together they enjoyed continuing the ceramic business, time in Talkeetna with her family and friends, and traveling in the winter to ceramic conventions and Arizona.
He was devoted to his family and them to him. Bud was preceded in death by his parents, Harry & Clara Longenecker, his wife, Mary Longenecker, his brother, Charles Longenecker, sister, Janet Kline, and son-in-law, Max Conn. He is survived by his life partner, Linda Vojtech; his children, Ruthann Conn, Larry Longenecker, and Felicia Longenecker; his six grandchildren, Terry (Tiffany) McGovern, Julie (Mike) Conn, Angela (Jacob) Dunaway, Amanda Nesbitt, Eric (Zanna) Conn and Elliette Longenecker as well as his 21 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his siblings, Elizabeth Lee, Mary Stewart, Shirley (Bill) Russell, Tom Longenecker, Joyce (Mike) McKenzie, Grace (Edgar) Wentz and Darlene Houck along with unending nieces and nephews.
Bud was a self-made man with an eighth-grade education that could make something out of nothing. He was a kind, caring, loving person that devoted his life to his family and the people he loved. He enriched everyone whose life he touched. Bud will be laid to rest on the homestead where he spent the majority of his life.
His life was a blessing, His memory a treasure, He was loved beyond words and He will be missed beyond measure!