Pamela Jean Handrich


Posted: Sunday, February 13, 2005


  Pamela Jean Handrich

Pamela Jean Handrich

Homer resident Pamela Jean Handrich died Monday, Jan. 24, 2005, at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer with family and friends at her bedside after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 53.

A memorial service was held at Faith Lutheran Church on Friday, Jan. 28, with a celebration of life that followed at Beluga Lake Lodge, both in Homer.

Mrs. Handrich was born Nov. 19, 1951, in Crane. Texas. She was the middle of three daughters born to Charles and Frances Ham. The family moved to the Houston area when her mom was a registered nurse and her father was a safety engineer. She attended South Houston High School and after graduating, attended Texas A&M in Austin.

In 1975, she moved to Fairbanks and became a part-time student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She worked as a library assistant and at numerous jobs to pay for expenses while attending as many classes as possible. She received her bachelor of science degree from UAF in 1985, with a major in biology and a minor in Russian.

She met Gary Handrich in Fairbanks in 1981 while he was working on the North Slope and she worked summers at the Swanson Lake moose pens for Fish and Game. They were married March 27, 1988.

They enjoyed many adventures hunting and fishing, including harvesting Dall sheep on backpack trips in the St. Elias Mountains. She enjoyed the outdoors, including horses, hiking, biking, birding, photography, skiing, snowmaching and natural history. She also worked as a receptionist-hotel and bar manager and waitress. She was mechanically inclined and loved a challenge.

She blessed us with a wonderful son, Tracy. She was a wonderful mother, excellent cook and enjoyed time at home gardening with our new son while enjoying friends and family, her husband said.

After working for an air service and an optometrist, eventually they started a small business. In 1996, she was hired as the assistant librarian at Kenai Peninsula College.

One of her friends described her as a gentle soul with a wonderful light. She was the heart and soul of the library.

She was active on the Homer Little League board in the early 1990s and managed the T-ball program. She and her husband also were promoters of the Pop Warner Football organization, where she managed teams, was a board member, and the Web master.

I feel honored to have spent 24 years with her. She loved life, learning and had a good sense of humor. She appreciated the arts, played guitar and piano. Pams first love was books and reading, and she became an accomplished beader and good with electronics and computers, her husband said.

She always looked at the positive side of life, even when things didnt go so well, she had endless compassion, understanding and patience. She was always curious of the unknown. She cared very much about people who suffered in the world and was an advocate for all the students at the library who ever felt overwhelmed by their assignments. She was romantic and passionate about life and very intelligent and intuitive.

Even during her seven-year battle with cancer in August of 2004 she said, I want to keep working and go to graduate school.

She never gave up hope. She insisted on managing her own health care, which Tracy and I supported. She was someone who has helped so many people and touched so many lives, we loved her and will miss her forever.

Mrs. Handrich was preceded in death by her mother, Frances Ham. She is survived by her husband, Gary; and son, Tracy; sisters, Barbara Peel of Houston, Texas, and Patricia Ham of Henderson, Nev.; and father, Charles Ham and his wife, Eva, of Houston.

There has been a foundation set up called the Pamela Handrich Memorial Fund at Kachemak Bay Branch of KPC Library. All donations will be used for purchases or improvement of the library in Mrs. Handrichs honor.

Arrangements were made by Homer Funeral Home.

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