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Arnold "Bo" Elwood Norel Hepola of Brookston, Minn., passed away on Feb. 21 at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth, Minn.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Loretta Hepola, in October 2007.

Arnold was born April 3, 1929, on a farm in rural New York Mills, to Harry and Winell (Knuttila) Hepola, and was raised in New York Mills. He was a popular three-sport athlete for the New York Mills Eagles and was a member of the class of 1947. He was nicknamed "Bo" by his father, and was better known by that name to his family, closest friends and in his home town.

Leaving high school, Bo enlisted for three years in the U.S. Navy, while World War II was still active. Upon his discharge, he attended Northwestern Institute in Minneapolis, and married Loretta Niemala on March 3, 1951. He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and achieved the rank of Tech Sergeant. He and Loretta lived in San Diego, Calif. and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, during his service with the Army. His active military service made him a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War.

Following his military service, they made their home in St. Paul, Minn., where he worked for the Donaldson Corporation as a research and development technician, creating muffler and air cleaner prototypes for the companies engineering department. He left Donaldson Corp. to return to the U.S. Army Department of Defense as a civilian working on the Nike Ajax guided missile defense system for 10 years. Upon the closing of the Nike Missile System, Bo transferred to the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, retiring in 1982.

Following his retirement from the federal government, he then worked for Philips Oil Company as a field engineer, before starting Brookston Electric, in 1986, which he sold upon retirement. While living in Coon Rapids, Minn., in the 1960s, he and Loretta began a tree farm on a homestead they purchased in Brookston, planting over 40,000 trees during a five-year period. They left the Twin Cities and moved to their Brookston property in 1974.

He was a member of the American Tree Farm System, the Minnesota Tree Farmers Association, and was named Minnesota Regional Tree Farmer of the Year in 1996. He was recently recognized for achieving an active tree farm for 50 continuous years. He was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying hunting, fishing and tending to his tree plantation. He traveled extensively in retirement, including trips to England, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, WWII battlefields in France, and repeated visits to relatives in Finland.

Bo and Loretta were active members of Immanuel Lutheran Church in

Brookston for over 35 years, serving as congregation president in the 1990s. They were previously members of Peace Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids, where he was a multiple term delegate to state and regional ALC synod conventions.

In addition to his beloved wife Loretta, he was preceded in death by his parents; twin sister, Audrey; sisters, Ivy and Aina; and sister-in-law, Betty Niemala.

He is survived by his sons, Tom of Duluth, Minn., and Tim (Karina) of Savage, Minn.; grandchildren, Matthew, Tiffany and Samantha, and son Kim of New York City, N.Y.

Visitation will be Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 5-7 p.m. at Nelson Funeral Care in Cloquet, Minn., and will resume on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Brookston. Military honors will be presented by the Cloquet Combined Honor Guard. A luncheon and time of fellowship will follow in the church social hall. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the American Lung Association. See the family online guest book at