Kathy left this world on February 20, 2019 in the same way she lived in it, with great integrity, courage and love.

Kathy lived her early years surrounded by her extended family in the small Pennsylvania town of Montrose where her dad taught her to swim and ski, activities that she loved for years. When Kathy was 12 her parents relocated to Colorado. Initially Kathy was horrified at the emptiness of the plains east of the mountains. But the Rocky Mountains won her over, where she learned to be an expert skier and member of the ski patrol and later took up backpacking. Kathy met her husband Don on a cross country ski trip in 1975 and by August they were living together in Boulder, two 21 year old (working) hippies.

The desire to find the right place to settle and raise a family led Kathy and Don on a meandering trip west. The trip ended in Humboldt County where they simultaneously fell in love with the place and ran out of money. Immediately finding jobs, Kathy proceeded on a career that included working as a legal secretary, co-op manager, loan officer, accountant, mediator, and for her last 20 working years running her own consulting business where she had hundreds of clients many of whom she loved deeply.

In 1980, Kathy and Don joined friends Kathy and Greg O’Leary in buying a rambling two-unit place in Arcata. She and Don raised their two children, Bren and Lauren upstairs from the O’Leary family, enjoying the yard, holidays, and parties together for many years. Kathy insisted on backpacking 5 or 6 times a summer with her young family, something they did for years, even when it became hard for Kathy to get out there.

1994 saw a move to a larger place in McKinleyville purchased almost exclusively because Kathy liked the trees in the front yard with the curving driveway between them. She loved those trees and treated the entire yard as a refuge for her soul. Over time the property did indeed become a “fairy garden” that helped compensate for Kathy’s difficulty in getting out.

Kathy was fortunate that technology kept improving and she took full advantage. Kathy’s skill with accounting software was legendary (as was her empathy for people who detested having to look in detail at their finances), so when she couldn’t drive herself to clients anymore she took over their computers from home while she met with them on the phone. That gave her another 5 years of working life, and more fun technological puzzles to solve.

A deeply spiritual person, Kathy studied extensively nearly ever religious and philosophical tradition available to her. And as with everything she did, Kathy synthesized her own “theory of everything” incorporating her great learning and her meditative insights. As her pain levels increased, Kathy found that spending much of her time in deep meditation helped her unite with the divine in life, something that was becoming more difficult to do in her everyday life. Eventually Kathy slipped into a more or less permanent alternate reality that gave her great joy but could be challenging for her family and friends to understand.

Kathy’s final move was to Port Townsend, Washington in 2015 to be near her daughter and grandson. She had three and a half years of loving family and excellent medical care close by while she slowly left her physical body. When Kathy had run the course as far as she was able she courageously let go of living, with her family all around her at home.

Her leaving has left a huge hole in her family but also gratefulness that she isn’t suffering any longer. Her vision of a more beautiful world of people caring for each other continues to inspire us today.

Kathy is survived by her husband Don, daughter Lauren, son Bren, grandson Anders, father Don Very, sister Sue Williams, and numerous in laws, nephews and nieces, and a whole lot of friends.

A memorial service will be held May 18 on College Cove Trail in Trinidad, weather permitting. For updated information email donehnebuske@gmail.com.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Kathy Ehnebuske’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.