Airi Aliisa Davidson, age 85, of Winsted, passed away Friday, Jan. 22 at St. Mary’s Care Center in Winsted.
Airi, the little lady with the Finnish accent, was born to Yrjo and Aino Makinen in Mikkeli, Finland June 19, 1930. Airi lost her father at an early age, and only two of six siblings survived to adulthood, Airi, and her sister, Assi.
Airi’s childhood was during the Russian-Finnish war. Running to bomb shelters during Russian bombings was a common childhood occurrence. Going to theaters to watch American movies was a way to escape war, and to forget how hungry they were. As young girls, Airi and her sister were separated from their family when their city was evacuated as Russian troops advanced.
The family lost everything in the war, but Airi’s talent got her into a prestigious art school. Airi worked as a commercial artist for Paulig Coffee company in Helsinki.
Airi and her girlfriend, Sanu traveled a lot as young women. One of Airi’s trips brought her to Perham, Minnesota, where she met, fell in love with, and married Robert Davidson, Oct. 11th 1952.
Shortly after their marriage, Immigration and Naturalization Services deported Airi. The newlyweds were separated for about a year until Airi was allowed to re-enter the United States. They had one child, a son, Gregory.
There was not much work for a commercial artist in Perham, so Airi began work as a nurse’s assistant at St. James Hospital in Perham. She continued working as a NA at St. Mary’s Hospital and Home when the family moved to Winsted in 1963.
In 1981, injuries from a tragic auto accident prevented Airi from returning to work.
She became a naturalized American citizen in July 1959. She did it because she wanted her son to have an American mother.
Airi loved flowers and gardening and had a green thumb. Hobbies included painting, sketching, quilting, and knitting afghans. She was an avid science fiction fan and loved “Star Trek.”
She was also superstitious, not wanting to venture out on Friday the 13th. Airi told fortunes with a deck of playing cards, something her grandmother had taught her how to do.
Although she had severe arthritis and numerous other health problems, Airi maintained a positive attitude, considering herself blessed to have enough to eat and a home, things many of us take for granted. She loved and spoiled her grandchildren, and loved Christmas the tree always had to reach the ceiling.
Airi was a faithful member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Winsted.
She was preceded in death by her parents; five siblings; and husband, Robert.
Airi is survived by her only child, a son, Gregory (Donna) of Winsted; grandchildren Robert (Stephanie) of Alexandria, Jonathan (Cory) of Lester Prairie, and Jennifer (Rick) Stenberg of Joliet, IL; and great- grandchildren Owen, Matthew, Victoria, and Gregory.
She is further survived by sister-in-law Beatrice (Cliff) Bigley of Mesa, AZ; brother-in-law Kenny Davidson and sister-in-law Marion Davidson of Grand Forks, ND; and lifelong friend Sanu (Bill) Bauck of Perham.
Funeral services took place Saturday, Jan. 30 at noon at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Winsted, with Pastor William Keller officiating. Sheryl Menden was the organist, and Bruce Gatz was the soloist for the funeral service. Interment was Sunday, Jan. 31 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Cemetery in Perham.
There was visitation at the church from 10 a.m. till the time of the services.
Casket bearers were Gene Davidson, Jim Davidson, Richard Davidson, Terry Worwa, Brian Worwa, and Chuck DeLisi.
The Chilson Funeral Home in Winsted assisted the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at www.chilsonfuneralhome.com.