Neal Raphael Harju, age 82, of Cokato, passed away Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, at the Cokato Manor.
He was born Dec. 23, 1931, in Wing, ND, to John Rudolph and Lydia (Matson) Harju. Neal grew up on the farm in Wing, and attended country school. He graduated from Bismarck High School in 1950.
After high school, Neal spent two years in the United States Army and served in Massachusetts, the Carolinas, and Germany.
While still in the service, Neal met June Lehtinen of Fitchburg, MA, and they were married March 20, 1954, by the Rev. Reino Kallio, in Fitchburg.
After military service, Neal and June moved to Cokato, where Neal found work at the Harkman Tire Service. In 1966, Neal and his brother, Bill Harju purchased the tire shop from Carl Harkman. Neal retired in 1994.
Neal was a member of the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Cokato. He cherished time spent with all of his family and dear Christian friends.
He is survived by his wife, June, of Cokato, daughters Joanne (Gary) Chamberlain, Linda (Dennis) Samuelson, all of Cokato, and Maria Harju of Howard Lake; grandchildren Tara (Timm) Hagen, Sheila Chamberlain, Erin (Kevin) Parenteau, Jessi (Mike) Hauan, Kelsey Chamberlain, Derrek (Amanda) Harju, and Jaden Samuelson; and great-grandchildren Akadia Hagen, Austin Hagen, Alana Hagen, Noah Parenteau, Jolynn Hauan, and Brooke Hauan.
Neal is further survived by sisters Eunice (Frank) Korpi of Mountain Iron, and Judy (Arlin) Hogenson of Fairbanks, AK; nieces, nephews, other relatives, and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John Rudolph and Lydia; grandson Brandon Chamberlain; great-granddaughter Aubrey Parenteau; sisters Lillian Harju, Ellen Bailey, and Martha Bailey; and brothers Bill, Vernon, Hubert, and Otto.
The funeral service was Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. at First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Dassel. Interment was at Cokato Finnish Cemetery.
There was visitation Tuesday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home of Cokato, with a prayer service at 7 p.m.
The Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home in Cokato handled the arrangements.