Our beloved Aunt Lillian passed away unexpectedly at home in Boise on Sunday, November 11, 2012, at the age of 83. She was the 2nd child born to Karl John Wirtanen and Ida (Ronbacki) Wirtanen, immigrants from Finland. She was born and raised in Bergland, Michigan and graduated from Ironwood High School.
She would often recount with fondness and humor her life growing up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with her parents on Lake Gogebic. Her parents were the first to develop property on the Lake which included boat and cottage rentals as well as a sauna. Since her father had many occupations ranging from owning his own logging company to tavern owner, she learned skills such as learning to drive a logging truck at age eleven and later helping her parents operate their family tavern in Wakefield. Some of the men that worked for her father and people who visited their tavern would have made great characters for a novel that would have depicted life from a bygone era in rural Midwest America.
She first met her husband-to-be, Edwin (Gunner) Eliason at her family tavern. It took 2-3 years before she agreed to go out with him.
After marriage and her father selling their tavern, she went to work for the Simpson Meter Company for almost five years. She had the distinction of being their top meter straightener in all their plants. The workers were very proud that their meters were used for trips to the Moon.
In 1963, she and her husband Gunner relocated to Aberdeen, Washington. She held various part-time jobs over the years ranging from retail to janitorial to caregiver for the elderly including her own friends at times in later years. She was known by many as Aunt Lil not only by her nieces and nephews but those who wanted a fun and sweet aunt. The most important job she took on was to be a Mom to her nephew, John, and later on to her niece, Linda. She was very proud of all her nieces and nephews and great and great-great-nieces. She was a member of the United Finnish Kaleva Lodge #9 in Aberdeen. She enjoyed many other activities throughout her years, bowling in her earlier years, making and sewing craft items, baking, as well as playing scrabble, cribbage and story telling. All of them she excelled in up to the day before she left this world for a new heavenly home. She will be forever missed and loved by all.
She is survived by three nieces, Mary Anderson, Linda Leech, Annette Culbertson; and nephew, John Eliasson; great-nieces, Maija Anderson, Julie Wakefield, Stacie Leech, Megan Eliasson; great-nephew, Matthew Anderson; and great-great-nieces, Jenna Rose Wakefield, Maggie Lillian Pulford; and great-great-nephew, James Wakefield.
She was preceded in death by her husband; mother and father; infant brother; and niece, Carol Hannick.
Services will be conducted at Fern Hill Funeral Home at 11:00 a.m. Friday, November 30, 2012.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the United Finnish Kaleva Lodge #9 scholarship program would be greatly appreciated.
A message of condolence or of a memory can be left for the family at www.fernhillfuneral.com
Arrangements are entrusted to Fern Hill Funeral Home in Aberdeen.