Lawrence (Lawry) Wilbert Kilpela, age 95, of Cokato, passed away Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, at his home.
He was born March 19, 1922, in Laurium, MI, the son of John and Mary (Peterson) Kilpela. Lawrence’s father supported the family of nine children by working as an accountant.
Lawrence grew up with four sisters and four brothers. He was baptized as an infant, and later confirmed in his faith as a youth.
In his youth, Lawrence enjoyed going out to his grandparents’ farm for extended periods of time, playing baseball with the neighbors, and playing football and basketball in Calumet High School in Michigan.
He was a graduate of the Calumet High School class of 1940. While in high school, he really enjoyed working with wood and he absolutely loved working in wood shop.
Lawrence entered active military service in the United States Navy Feb. 16, 1943, and served his country during World War II. He received an honorable discharge Feb. 7, 1946, at the United States Navy Personnel Separation Center in Great Lakes, IL, having achieved the rank of Carpenter’s Mate Third Class.
Most of Lawry’s life, he was a carpenter, which allowed him to experience working in the Detroit Art Institute, at the Detroit Lions office, and at the Ford Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. He retired in 1985.
Lawrence was united in marriage to Saima Juopa Sept. 21, 1945. This marriage was blessed with 12 children: Ann, Mike, Fred, Ilona, Rebecca, Jeff, Joseph, Wendy, Nora, Jill, Karen, and one stillborn child.
Lawrence and Saima resided in Calumet, and later moved to the Detroit area. They shared 41 years of marriage.
Lawrence was united in marriage to Louise Niemela March 18, 1989, in Cokato. Lawrence and Louise resided in the Upper Peninsula, MI, for nine years, and later moved to Cokato. They shared 26 and one-half years of marriage before Louise passed away Sept. 1, 2015.
Lawrence was a member of the Carpenters Union.
He was also a member of the Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church.
He enjoyed custom woodworking, lake living, and in his later years, snowmobiling. Lawry especially enjoyed spending time with his family, grandchildren, and friends.
He is survived by his children and grandchildren: Ann Eskola and her husband, Jim of West Bloomfield, MI, and their children, Lynette, Debbie, Dan and Greg; Michael Kilpela and his wife, Cheryl of Fowlerville, MI, and their children, Jason, David, Janice, Jon, Nick, and Kristen; Frederick Kilpela and his wife, Trudy, of Cokato, and their children, Matthew, Sara, Jeff, Jamie, and Marianne; Ilona Simonson of Deer Park, WA, and her children, Kirk, Adam, Brett, Nicole, Josh, Lane, Bethany, Tiffany, Arianna and Rahn; Jeff Kilpela and his wife, Karen of Howell, MI, and their children, Kelli, Michelle, Katie, Craig, Annette, Janelle, Tom, Laura, Emily, and Carrie; Joseph Kilpela and his wife, Linda of Howell, MI, and their children, Brent, Brion, Tricia, Kim, and Shannon; Wendy Wisuri and her husband, Bill of Fowlerville, MI, and their children, Derrick, Grant, Rene, and Joel; Nora Peterson and her husband, Karl of Calumet, MI, and their children, Jason, Karmen, Eric, Nathan, Ashley, Sam, Kaylee, and Ben; Jill Leukuma and her husband, Chuck, of Orono, MN, and their children, Jennifer, Chad, Bridget, Travis, Kent, Katelyn, Tyler, Grant, Leanna, Trevor, and Brynn; Karen Grangroth and her husband, Wayne, of Cokato, and their children, Karlee, Jorden, Lynlee, Whitney, Brielle, Dustin, Chloe, Garrett, and Tricia; Mike Niemela and his wife, Cheryl, of Cokato, and their children, Shari, Vicki, Megan, Bruce, Scott, Julie, Jenny, and Anna; Nathan Niemela and his wife, Nancy of Cokato, and their children, Ben, Abe, Carrie, Sam, Sarah, Kathryn, Bethany, and David; Maria Borja and her husband, Marcelo of Robbinsdale; Aaron Niemela and his wife, Bonnie, and their children, Ryan, Luke, Phil, Laura, AJ, and Tyler; Vincent Niemela and his wife, Brenda, of Calumet, MI, and their children, Rachel, and Kristen; Larry Niemela and his wife, Elizabeth, of Cokato, and their children, Ethan, Logan, Sofia, Jacob, and Nikolai; Joe Niemela of Cokato; Maurice Niemela and his wife, Sarah, of Cokato, and their children, Morgan, Elle, Noel, Drew, Oren, and Erica; Betsy Niemela of Minneapolis; and Amy Niemela of Minneapolis, and her children, Nicole, Melissa, and Daniel.
Lawrence is further survived by a son-in-law, George Pennala of Livna, MI, and his children, Hans, Justin, Nolan, Brita, Greta, Saima, Teija, Lena, Karrissa, Drew, and Malia; sisters Estelle of Loveland, CO, and Joan Peterson of Dassel; and many other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Mary Kilpela; wife Saima Kilpela; wife Louise Kilpela; daughter, Rebecca Pennala; grandson, Andy Kilpela; and son-in-law, Mark Simonson.
Memorial services took place Wednesday, Dec. 27 at 1 p.m. at Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church in Cokato, with a gathering of family and friends at the church beginning at 11 a.m., prior to the service. Interment will be in White Chapel Memorial Cemetery in Troy, MI, at a later date.
Pastor Orval Wirkkala officiated at the service. Beth Wirkkala was the pianist, and special music was provided by the Kingston Apostolic choir, “Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere.” Congregational hymns were “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “My Hope is Built On Nothing Less,” and “Trust and Obey.”
Mike Kilpela was the urn bearer. Honorary urn bearers were Karlee Grangroth, Whitney Grangroth, and Brielle Grangroth.
Military honors were provided by the American Legion Post #483 of Dassel.
Memorials are preferred to the American Cancer Society.
Arrangements were with the Dobratz-Hantge Funeral Chapel; www.hantge.com.