Services Pending for Missionary Hans Roald Amundsen

Post a Comment » Written on December 5th, 2008     
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SOLDOTNA, AK (December 5, 2008) – Memorial services are pending for retired Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) missionary Hans Roald Amundsen, 94, who helped lead the expansion of the denomination’s work in Alaska since 1945. He died Thursday.

Amundsen was born October 7, 1914, in Rockford, Illinois. He married Harriet Swanson on July 26, 1944. Amundsen graduated from Seattle Pacific College in 1941 and from North Park Theological Seminary in 1945. He began serving the ECC in Alaska after being called by the Department of World Mission to Nome in 1945.

He earned his pilot’s license in 1946 and flew supplies across much of the mission field. In an earlier Annual Meeting report, he noted that in 1948 he flew 40,000 miles carrying out work that included transporting children to hospitals, delivering food supplies and bringing missionaries together for meetings.

Flying the Bush region of Alaska is a dangerous job and Amundsen had his share of close calls, but he remembered them with his trademark humor. In an article published in 2004, Amundsen recalled running low on fuel during one trip in which he was transporting three passengers to Unalakleet at the conclusion of a mission trip. He was forced to land in the dark on top of a mountain.

“I aimed for this rolling hill, put the plane down and then the hill was gone. It just dropped off (on the other side),” he said. “I came around again and my landing lights caught the mountain, and we managed to land safely.”

The Civil Air Patrol was dispatched and dropped two sleeping bags and food for the stranded travelers. The next morning, others delivered a can of gas so he was able to fly off the mountain and complete the journey. “I’ve flown over that mountain many times since, and I’ve still not found a place to land,” he quipped.

The increase in the number of planes flying for various mission organizations led to a greater need for people trained to do repairs. In 1964, Amundsen moved to Soldotna and began the nonprofit Missionary Aviation and Repair Center. It has provided pilot training as well as repair service.

Amundsen had a passion to help the people in the impoverished Bush villages learn skills that would provide incomes. That desire led to the creation of the Amundsen Educational Center (AEC), a Christian vocational training school that primarily serves Alaska Native students.

When a parcel of land was donated to Amundsen for charitable purposes in the mid-1990s, he partnered with Covenant ministers Maynard Londborg and Donald Bruckner as well as Dr. Robert Fortuine to found the school, which was incorporated in 1996. The founders decided to name the school in Amundsen’s honor in recognition of his years of service. The accompanying photo shows (from left) Bruckner, Londborg, Amundsen, and Fortuine.

The students have built a house together each year over the past several years. The students do all aspects of the home construction, beginning in the fall. The houses are sold in the spring, with the funds benefitting the school.

Amundsen served as chaplain and Bible teacher at AEC until his health began to fail in the last year and a half.

Covenant News Service will publish additional information as it becomes available.

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