Eva Mae (Punky) Houchin peacefully went home to be with her mom, dad, brothers and sisters, Tuesday, October 3, 2023.
Eva was born February 10, 1932, in Clonmel, KS to William Oria Houchin and Zenia Elizabeth Cook Houchin. She was the 6th of 9 children born to this union. Her father looked at her and dubbed her “Punky Dunk” which stuck and was shortened to “Punky” by the rest of the family. Punky is the only name most of her nieces and nephews ever knew until they started introducing their older friends to her and knew she had to have more of a name than Punky but we didn’t know what that name was.
Her dad was a line foreman for Santa Fe Railroad so they always lived near a railroad track in a line house. As a baby during the Dust Bowl, Punky’s mother would lay her in a dresser drawer and cover her with a wet tea towel, protecting her lungs. As a child her dad would often take Punky and some of her siblings to their grandparents who lived down the line. If you remember the old pump handle cars, that was their mode of transportation for those visits. Living so close to the railroad tracks hobos would come to the house looking for food. Punky’s mother always found work for them to do so she could feed them. This taught Punky that charity isn’t always a free handout but often times it had to be earned.
At a young age the family moved to Canton, OK where there was plenty opportunity for mischief for her and her siblings. She and her brothers dove off the railroad bridge into the creek to swim, had a swing that was suspended from telephone poles and they would see who could get the highest, they would tie the hind legs of crickets together and watch them try to hop away, and so much more. Living near the Cheyenne Arapaho Indian Reservation near Canton gave her an invaluable education about indigenous culture.
The family moved back to Kansas and landed in Caldwell where Punky went on to use her extrovert personality at school to be in school plays, on the yearbook staff, a member of the Kayette’s, and a cheerleader her senior year. It was the story of Punky and her classmates hanging their English teacher out the 3rd story window of the high school that taught many of the nieces and nephews their aunt was pretty onery her entire life.
During high school and a short time after she worked at Detrick’s grocery store in Caldwell. Like most young people she wanted to leave the small town behind and looked for a better opportunity. She began working at Beech Aircraft in Wichita as a file clerk on September 30. 1957 working her way to lead Cost Accountant, retiring November 2, 1992.
Punky was an avid bowler winning many awards, active in church, teaching Sunday school and bible study many years, loved to travel and even went to Ireland. She spent many hours tracing her family genealogy discovering family who fought in the civil war, a few ghosts in the closet, and traced ancestors back to Sweden and Germany. But her biggest love was her love for children. No matter where she was, no matter how busy she was, she always took time out for all of us and taught each of us the value of everyone you meet and a good education.
She is preceded in death by her parents and siblings, Earl, Olive, Orn, Bud, Maxine, Lloyd, Carl, Mary and Ralph.
Punky is survived by her nieces and nephews, and many additional nieces, nephews and other family members.
Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 7, 2023 at the Central Christian Church with Dr. Dan Price officiating. Interment will follow at Caldwell City Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Central Christian Church or to the American Heart Association and sent in care of the mortuary.