When the Rev. Karl Stendal of Forest City was a youth in the tall-timbered state of Washington, he worked as a tree topper and rigger in the giant Douglas firs. High places don’t worry him a bit, and neither does hard work. Hence, when the steeple of his church requires a bit of repairing, the pastor himself clambers up and does the job. Not only that: He takes contracts to paint other steeples in the vicinity. These photographs were taken this fall while the pastor was working the West Prairie Lutheran Church two miles west of Leland, in Winnebago county. He previously had repaired steeples of three other churches, including Trinity Lutheran Free Church of Forest City of which he is pastor. He is also pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Free Church in Osage and preaches a sermon each Sunday in both pulpits.
The Rev. Mr. Stendal in his painting outfit. He is 48 and was born in Norway.
The climbing pastor hangs on to a cross he is installing on top of the West Prairie church. The top of this cross is 100 feet from the ground. When he was a lumberjack he climbed as high as 175 feet to top trees.
He works alone, using cable, pulley and counter-weight. The painting job alone on this church near Leland took him about six days. The two other steeples he has worked on besides that of his Forest City church are at the Linden church near Thompson and the Lutheran church in Fertile.
Page 8 – Des Moines Sunday Register – November 6, 1955
(Register Staff Photographer George Yates)