George S. Endal

Anchorage Daily News [Alaska]
November 18, 1996

Jesuit priest Father George S. Endal, 94, died Nov. 15, 1996, of a stroke at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

A funeral mass is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Holy Family Cathedral, 818 W. 5th Avenue. Visitation will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at Anchorage Funeral Home.

Father Endal was born Feb. 25, 1902, in Tacoma, Wash. He entered the Jesuit Order on July 31, 1918, and was ordained a priest in Lyons, France, on Aug. 24, 1932. On June 24, 1936, he arrived at Holy Cross Mission to begin a career of missionary work in Alaska that was to last 60 years. He spent 50 years in the Diocese of Fairbanks and 10 in Anchorage. No other Jesuit priest has ever spentso many years in the North.

After two years at Holy Cross, Father Endal was sent to serve for eight years at Mountain Village. While there he was responsible also for nearby villages. To these he traveled with his own dog team. During summer months he traveled on a little barge he had built to serve him as transportation, housing and a floating chapel. In August 1946, he was transferred to Alakanuk to tend to that village and surrounding villages and camps.

Dillingham was the next scene of Father Endal's labors. He arrived there on April 27, 1948. As the pioneer priest in that area, he put up a number of buildings to serve as residence, chapel and school. He taught both as a substitute teacher in the public school and in his own Holy Rosary Mission School. Fire destroyed several of his buildings. To "bring God's grace and American culture to the residents of Bristol Bay," he recruited lay volunteers to help him.

From 1949 to 1962, when he left Dillingham, Father Endal served as an assistant agent of the Cannery Workers' Union, Local 46. His principal concern was that the workers, especially the Native workers, got a fair deal and that their spiritual needs would be met.

From 1962 to 1964, Father Endal held station at Nulato. This was his first and only time among Alaska's Indian people. On Aug. 15, 1964, he arrived at Hooper Bay to serve that village, along with Scammon Bay and Chevak. While at Hooper Bay, he was postmaster for three years. For the next 18 years he made his headquarters in St. Michael. From that village, he visited Stebbins and Unalakleet on a regular basis. When the new church in Unalakleet was to be blessed on Jan. 29, 1995, the people insisted that Father Endal be there, and he was.This was the only time during the last 10 years of his life that he traveled outside of Anchorage.

By the early 1980s, he was beginning to feel the weight of years. In 1986 he moved to the Pioneers Home in Anchorage. But he was not about to go into total rocking-chair retirement. He kept up a low-key ministry in the home; he kept writing and doing a great deal of praying. In 1991 he "did time," serving a 15-day sentence at an Anchorage halfway house for a trespass conviction stemming from an anti-abortion protest. He preferred to be jailed to paying a $ 250 fine. His colleagues said, "During his jail stint he maintained a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, saying that he felt free as a bird."

During his latter years he often expressed to his Religious Superior his desire to return to God. He said he "can't figure out why the good Lord is putting off taking me."

On Tuesday evening, while still in the Anchorage Pioneers Home, he had a severe stroke. His wish had all along been that he not receive extraordinary treatment.

His colleagues said, "Father George S. Endal, S.J., is now truly free. In his dying he was born to eternal life."

Funeral services were handled by Anchorage Funeral Home.


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