Fortuna Odell Native Alaskan Vital Part of Juneau Community

November 01, 2007 | Jean Riederer

Fortuna Odell, a faithful member of the Juneau Church, celebrated her 91st birthday on August 6. She was born along the Yukon River at Fortuna Lodge, Alaska, in 1916 to her Yupik Eskimo mother, Annie, and her father, Roy Hunter, who came from Pennsylvania to mine for gold around 1904.

She attended Native boarding schools to finish her high school education, first in White Mountain and then in Eklutna, near Anchorage.

After graduating from high school, she was hired by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Juneau. This began her long career in Federal, Alaska Territorial, and later, the Alaska State Department of Health. For many years until her retirement Odell was the program specialist for the Crippled Children's Services for the State of Alaska. When she retired in 1982, Odell was given special recognition and honored by the Alaska Legislature for her many years of work caring for the handicapped children of Alaska.

Odell was baptized by Elder Harold Dawson after studying with friends and joined the Juneau Church in 1953. For many years she has been a greeter for the church—a position she does so well. With her sharp memory she recalls names of people who may have visited years ago. Last year at her 90th birthday she was honored by the church family at a special dinner and given a book filled with personal pictures and messages of love from her many friends.