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Marie Komula, 94

Marie Komula, age 94, of Cokato, passed away peacefully Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, at Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield, with her son and daughter-in-law at her side.

Marie was born May 27, 1919, at the Cokato Hospital, to John M. and Minnie E. Rhodin. She was named “Marie” because her uncle, Carl Haggberg, who was just back from serving in World War I, said, “All the girls in France are named Marie.”

She grew up on the Rhodin family farm northeast of town, attended country school, and graduated from Cokato High School in 1937. She completed her teacher’s training education in Hutchinson.

Marie entertained the idea of becoming a teacher from an early age. Her younger sister, Lyla, recalled many hours of playing “school” with Marie when they were both youngsters – complete with Lyla having to finish dozens and dozens of arithmetic problems that Marie had prepared for her, even after the play sessions were over.

All in all, Marie spent almost 50 years as a school teacher in Wright County. About half those years were spent in one-room country schools, and the other half she spent as a teacher’s aide, specializing in reading, in the Howard Lake and Dassel-Cokato systems, after the country schools were all consolidated in 1971. Besides her regular teaching duties, Marie was famous for her country school Christmas programs, which many said were the best in the area.

During World War II, Marie and her close, high school friend, Ellen Niemela headed to Los Angeles to find work. Marie worked a number of secretarial jobs while in California, and met her future husband, Toivo Komula, there after the war. They were married in 1948, and came back to live in Marie’s hometown.

Marie taught school well into her 70s. After retiring, she built up an impressive doll collection, honed her gardening skills, and thoroughly enjoyed going to – and putting on – garage sales. She was expert at being able to sell almost anything at her garage sales, including recently sprouted maple trees that she dug from her yard, potted, and sold for 50 cents each.

Marie spent her later years in the assisted living facility at Brookridge in Cokato, still going to garage sales, tending her potted plants, and reading – always reading.

She was preceded in death by her parents; and by her husband, Toivo.

Marie is survived by her sister, Lyla Lutter; son and daughter-in-law Steve Komula and Gayle Whitney; and several nieces and nephews; as well as numerous friends, and hundreds of former students – some of whom kept in touch with her for many decades.

A memorial service will take place Saturday, March 15 in the chapel at Cokato Manor at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Tim Wheatley officiating.

Arrangements are being handled by Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Cokato & Howard Lake; www.swansonpeterson.com.

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