Mystery of missing father comes to sad end with discovery of frozen body
Image by David Brooks/ KTUU
This is a still from video of the recovery efforts of the body. I don't own rights to this image. It was originally published on ktuu.com
For his family, the mystery of Ezra Golilie's whereabouts ended sadly today when police identified him as the body found frozen in the ice of a pond in Cuddy Family Park on April 11.
He was the father to four children, the youngest just 13-years- old, relatives say.
No one is quite sure who saw Golilie last.
His daughter, Tracy Arrow, says she saw him in August 2014. His sister Lucy Golilie says she talked with Ezra two months later when she visited Anchorage. Both women agree that 49-year-old hadn't had a home in a long time and was often hard to find.
“I always had problems getting in touch with him. I usually called his daughter and our friends who live in Anchorage,” Lucy Golilie said.
“He used to call my grandmother once in a while to – in his own words – let her know he was alive,” Arrow said, describing her father’s long absences while living on the streets.
Arrow had reported her father missing to police in late October after she hadn't seen him in a long time. Passersby spotted his submerged body at the popular duck pond and playground park about nine days ago.
Ezra and his wife Brenda had been homeless for years and sometimes lived out of hotels, Arrow said. When Brenda Golilie committed suicide in the summer of 2013, Ezra’s downward spiral into drinking began, according to Arrow.
“He took it pretty hard,” Arrow said. “He was drinking a lot and his friends said he was really heartbroken.” It was during this grieving process that he moved to the streets. “My grandma gave him a place to stay and I told him he could stay with me. He did live with me for a while and helped with my son, but he soon moved out. He said he couldn’t take it,” Arrow said. “I think he was just always reminded of my mother.”
In the months leading up to his disappearance, Ezra was an occasional client of Bean’s Café, Director Lisa Sauder told Channel 2 News.
“We didn’t necessarily know he was missing because he would just come in for a while and then disappear again. That’s how he did it,” Sauder said. “But we are so sad to hear the news. He was pretty quiet and well-liked here at Bean’s. He was always willing to help out.”
Family members said they remember Golilie as hardworking and kind.
“When our father died, Ezra built the casket,” Lucy Golilie said. “He was strong. Every time there was a funeral he was always there building things and helping out,” she said.
The family held a memorial service at Evergreen Memorial Chapel on Friday, April 17 and have taken his body to Shageluk to be buried with his wife on Friday, April 24.