by LaRue Hellenthal
Three Hellenthal brothers and one sister came to Juneau in the early 1900’s. All had been raised in the community of Holland, Michigan.
Jack G. Hellenthal, lawyer, was born in Holland, Michigan, September 17, 1874, and graduated from the University of Michigan law school. He arrived with his wife Bertha in 1900, from a law practice in Wyoming. He entered the law office of Judge G. K. Delaney when he first arrived. He also became the lawyer for the Treadwell Mine, in 1906, and later the attorney for the Alaska Juneau Mine.
He was in private practice in Juneau in the Hellenthal Building, built in 1915, for many years, along with his brother Simon, who arrived around 1905, and also graduated from University of Michigan Law School.
Jack was married to Bertha Linsley and had no children. They had a ranch in northern California and retired there in 1939. Jack lived on the ranch until he died in 1945.
He was the author of Alaska Melodrama. He was also very active in civic and political affairs in Juneau and, according to the Daily Alaska Empire newspaper clippings, was also quite a flamboyant guest speaker at many occasions and also in the courtroom. His wife, Bertha, was a well-known social hostess of many luncheons, bridge parties and teas.
Gertrude Hellenthal arrived in 1906, and taught in the Juneau High School, and later, in 1918, worked for B. M. Behrends Bank as bookkeeper. She left Juneau in 1920, for Chicago where she worked for Chicago Title and Trust.
Gertrude was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1934. She retired in the early 1940’s and lived with her sister-in- law, Bertha, the widow of Jack Hellenthal, on the ranch in northern California, where Bertha Hellenthal passed away. Gertrude died in Michigan. She never married.
Simon Hellenthal, lawyer, was born in Allegan County, Michigan, July 18, 1877. He arrived in Juneau around 1908, and was admitted to the Alaska Bar in 1909. Simon was Federal District Judge of the Third Division from 1935 to 1945. He married Katherine Cunningham, a teacher in Juneau, on October 3, 1911. Simon and Catherine had two children: Mary Claire Hellenthal, born in 1913; and John Simon Hellenthal, born in 1915; both in Juneau.
The Simon Hellenthal home was built in 1911, at the corner of Goldbelt and Calhoun and is still a well known home in Juneau. It is now owned by Kent Dawson. The Hellenthal neighbors for a lifetime were Doc and Belle Simpson on one side and the B. D. Stewarts on the other.
Simon and Jack built the Hellenthal building in 1916. Located in downtown Juneau on Front and Franklin Streets, this was where they practiced law. Simon and Charlie Goldstein owned the Goldstein and Hellenthal building on Franklin Street.
Simon moved to Valdez in 1935, after being appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a Territorial Judge of the Third Division. He thoroughly enjoyed his judgeship of the “Floating Court,” traveling by boat with his staff to hold court in various towns and villages in Alaska.
Simon’s wife, Katherine, passed away in 1943 in Juneau. He retired to his Juneau home in 1945. On September 10, 1947, Simon married Doris Jardine Swanson. Simon died in 1955 in Juneau.
Theodore G. Hellenthal (Ted) arrived in 1919, after being an Ensign in the Navy. He married Freda Tritschler in 1924. They had no children. Ted was admitted to the Alaska Bar in May, 1923, but he never actively practiced law. He was the bookkeeper of the Treadwell Gold Mining Company.
Ted and Freda retired in Seattle and then moved to Escondido, California and both are deceased.
Simon and Katherine Hellenthal’s daughter, Mary Claire, was born in Juneau in 1913. She was schooled in both Juneau and private Catholic schools. She married Fred Ayer, an Army serviceman, in the 1940’s. After the war, Fred worked in the U. S. Interior Department in Washington, D.C. Mary Claire died there in 1949, at the young age of thirty-three from cancer. She was very attractive and fun loving. They had no children.
Simon and Katherine’s son, John Simon Hellenthal was born in Juneau, February 20, 1915. He attended Santa Clara University for the first two years and graduated from Notre Dame University and obtained a Doctorate of Law degree from Notre Dame Law School. He practiced law with his Uncle Jack, in Juneau, for two years before he enlisted in the U.S. National Guard during World War II. John was stationed at Fort Richardson in Anchorage until he was sent to St. Paul Island with the Seventh Division, and then to Honolulu, Hawaii, in the Adjutant General Corps. He returned to Anchorage at the end of the war and set up his law practice in 1945, where he remained until his death in 1989.
In 1941, John married Mary Wildes of Juneau and they were later divorced. In June, 1945, he married LaRue Geiger, whom he met when both were stationed with the Army Port and Service Command in Honolulu. John and LaRue had three children, Marc Edwin, Cathy Lee and Steven Robert Hellenthal.
John was active in politics and civic affairs. He served as Anchorage City Attorney from 1948 to 1952. He was a member of the Constitutional Convention and served in the First and Second State Legislatures.
John’s wife, LaRue, and two of his children, Marc and Cathy, currently live in Anchorage.