Fr. Charles “Charlie” Wollesen, SJ died April 11, 2014, at the Jesuit Infirmary in Spokane. Priest, professor, scholar, fisherman and friend; Fr. Charlie lived a full and varied life that led him to many parts of the world.
The second of six children, Charles Albert Wollesen was born in Pierre, SD on January 23, 1922 to Albert Earl and Rose Catherine (Thorne) Wollesen. He lived in Casper, WY until his early teens when the family packed all their possessions on a flatbed truck and moved to Salem, OR. Fr. Wollesen graduated from Sacred Heart High School, Salem, OR in 1939 and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Sheridan, OR, in August that same year. He was ordained a priest on June 21, 1952, in Spokane, WA. Following ordination, Fr. Charlie earned a MA in English from Fordham University, and he returned to the northwest to help start Jesuit High School in Portland, OR. A few years later he completed a doctorate in English from the University of Washington and proceeded to teach in the English Department at Seattle University for over two decades. He loved the scholarly study of the writings of James Joyce and enjoyed bringing that knowledge to his students.
In 1984 Fr. Wollesen received an invitation to teach in Japan. With great enthusiasm he traveled to the Orient and spent nine years in Tokyo: four at Sophia University and three at Tokyo Women’s Junior College. During these summers he was both a chaplain and instructor on the “University of the Seven Seas,” an educational program conducted on an ocean going ship which sought to expand students’ horizons. In 1993 he returned to the Pacific Northwest and aided a number of parishes by filling in for their pastors; at the same time he helped his religious superiors in Portland and Seattle as a dependable assistant in community matters. Fr. Wollesen moved to Spokane in 2003 to join his brother Jesuits at the assisted-living center; declining health necessitated his moving into the infirmary two years ago.
Fr. Wollesen was preceded in death by four of his siblings: David, Carol, Maxine (Vincent), and Roger. He is survived by his brother Raymond (San Jose, CA); four nieces: Laurie Vincent, Mary (Vincent) Lenz, Debbie Wollesen and Korina (Wollesen) Shaver; and five nephews: Richard Vincent, David, Martin, Kenneth, and Wayne Wollesen. Many other family members, friends, and his brother Jesuits will miss the wit, joy, enthusiasm, and holiness of Fr. Charlie.
A vigil service will be held at 7:00pm, Friday, April 25, at the Jesuit House Chapel at Gonzaga University. The funeral Mass will be 11:00am, Saturday, April 26, also at Jesuit House Chapel. The inurnment will follow at Mt. St. Michaels Cemetery. Contributions in honor of Fr. Charles Wollesen, SJ, may be sent to The Senior Fund, c/o The Oregon Province Society of Jesus (P.O. Box 86010, Portland, OR 97286) and/or Hospice of Spokane (P.O. Box 2215, Spokane, WA 99210).