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Monday, June 12, 2006 - Page updated at 12:15 AM

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Endrik Noges, UW prof, endured war labor camp

Seattle Times staff reporter

Endrik Noges made the most of every opportunity life handed to him. As a father, he taught his children to value education. As an esteemed professor, he showed colleagues his dedication in the field of electrical engineering. And as a World War II labor-camp survivor, he showed everyone the importance of overcoming life's struggles.

At age 79, Dr. Noges died on Tuesday (June 6) from pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer.

He was born in Estonia and by the time he was 12, Russian troops had seized the small Baltic nation. At age 17, Dr. Noges escaped Estonia and Soviet rule but was placed in a German labor camp for six months before World War II ended.

After Allied forces freed him, Dr. Noges worked for the U.S. Army as a civilian in Germany. He finished high school in Germany with many other Estonians and was offered a scholarship to attend Denison University in Ohio. He later received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Northwestern University in Illinois in 1959.

He met his sweetheart, Evelyn, and married her in 1951. They raised two sons, Paul and Rob, and one daughter, Linda.

Dr. Noges moved his young family to the Seattle area after taking a job as an assistant professor at the University of Washington in 1958.

All three of his children attended the UW.

Paul Noges, a chemical engineer, said his father had a strong moral compass and always wanted to help people who were downtrodden.

"He had an enormous amount of friends because he extended help and was always being generous," he said.

Throughout his life, Dr. Noges opened the family's home several times to friends in need of help and Estonians who were studying at the University of Washington or just visiting the area.

While Dr. Noges planted roots in Washington, he still yearned to reconnect with his Estonian family, which he hadn't seen since 1944. After 20 years, he was able to secretly meet his mother and brother in a park in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Russia.

After Estonia regained its independence in 1991, Dr. Noges was elected as a foreign member of the country's Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Noges also became chairman of the UW's Department of Electrical Engineering.

Mark Damborg, a UW electrical-engineering professor, said Dr. Noges offered stability and guidance while he was department chairman.

"He was one of the solid citizens of the department," he said. "He was the voice of reason — the person people consulted."

Dr. Noges, who retired in 1992, had a commitment to the department, Damborg said. In one instance, Dr. Noges decided he couldn't wait for campus workers to paint a remodeled advising room, so he and several other faculty members painted it over a weekend.

He also consulted at Boeing for more than 30 years and volunteered as a member of the National Ski Patrol at Crystal Mountain for 29 years.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, of Kenmore; his children Paul Noges of Lakewood, Rob Noges of Seattle, and Linda Dimmitt of Wenatchee; and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service for Dr. Noges will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church, 11710 Third Ave. N.E., Seattle. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UW Department of Electrical Engineering, an educational institution of your choice, or an Estonian organization.

Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or cwillmsen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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