Buckwheat Donahue, Skagway storyteller, passes - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, November 27, 2020
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Buckwheat Donahue, Skagway storyteller, passes

Carlin “Buckwheat” Donahue, a storyteller, entertainer, historian, adventurer, and gold-panning champion, and larger-than-life longtime resident of Skagway, has passed.

He had been the executive director of the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau who often entertained tourists with his tales of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. And he was the founder of the Buckwheat International Ski Classic, a cross-country ski race that is going into its 34th year.

From a post on Facebook by the Log Cabin Ski Society: “Buckwheaters, this is a sad day but also one of great relief. Our dear friend and founder Buckwheat Donahue crossed over to the next bend this morning and is now at peace. He suffered another heart attack a few weeks ago just a few days after settling into a new senior centre in Oklahoma City, where I’m told he was racing about in his new cart, full of life of course. There was a concerted effort to keep him alive after he was brought back, but in the end, after waiting to see if he would bounce back, he was sent on his way, per his wishes. Buckwheat was bigger than life and that’s the way we will remember him. Our love goes out to his niece Kelly, who was with him today when he passed, and his grand-nephew Matt.”

In 2004, Donahue was a guest on the History Channel documentary, Big America: Alaska.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • CARLIN “BUCKWHEAT ” DONAHUE another great man that will be missed. GOD BLESS YOU AND REST IN PEACE IN HEAVEN.

  • Terrific guy. An Alaskan who made our state interesting and fun.

  • I first met Buckwheat years ago when I was the Executive Director of the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau. He was an amazing man and loads of fun! He was perfect in his position with the Skagway VB and the perfect Alaskan to let the tourists know the story. I’m saddened to hear he has passed but the memories of Buckwheat will live on! God bless his family and Rest In Peace Buckwheat.

  • Have not met many folks with as big a personality & love of life as Buckwheat. Condolences to his family.

  • Buckwheat Donahue became an Alaska legend in his own time. He partnered in and built a successful hiking company that carries on to this day. He mesmerized audiences with intricate Robert Service poetry, and his own astonishing yarns of hikes, treks, and voyages. He walked across – read this again – walked across North America from Key West to Skagway, and then went on down the Yukon River to Nome. In doing all of these things, he assured that he would transcend the life experiences of most ordinary mortals. He lived big, played big, helped other people big. And he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He always threw back his head and howled out loud with joy, and everyone howled with him. It became his trademark. “Bard” Larry Beck had his moment in Alaska’s story. Buckwheat Donahue did thousands of stage shows as well, and he sold thousands of CDs of his many recitations. He was an entertainer of the highest order. And he was a nice guy. Many have crossed the Great Divide before us. And now Buckwheat is up ahead: you can hear him howling up on the trail, enjoying the view from the Summit. Rest In Peace, Amigo.

  • Well, Steve you as usual said it best. It has been a joy to know “The Wheat” since the early 80’s, hard man not to love.

  • Here’s to you Buckwheat, my favorite Robert W. Service poem that you had memorized as did my father, grandfather, John McCain and so many others. https://caseystrikesout.wixsite.com/website/post/the-cremation-of-sam-mcgee

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