A life's journey of 86 years ended on March 2, 2013 for John E. Paatalo of New York Mills. He is survived by his wife, Delores (Nanik), five children (Heidi Paatalo-Nelson, Judith Engstrom, James, Joseph, and William), sister Leona Kirkam, sister Louise Giese, 11 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and many nieces and nephews.
John was born in Keewatin, Minn., on Dec. 13, 1926, the eldest child of Alfred and Ellen (Ala) Paatalo. He was a man who cherished his Finnish heritage. He was a lifelong believer in the goodness of the common man, and he rooted for underdogs and losers like the Chicago Cubs. He admired politicians who defined themselves as liberals. When called by his country during World War II, he answered the call and served honorably.
John enjoyed a good cup of coffee, learning as a child to drink it laced with cream and sugar from a saucer. For him, gourmet was a slice of freshly baked Finnish flat bread slathered with butter. Drinking a glass of wine with family or friends was a special pleasure, especially if he could discern quality in wine that cost less than 15 dollars a bottle. He never quite got over being amazed by the fact that, when he asked for her hand in marriage more than 58 years ago, a bright, pretty girl from Crosby said yes and marched lockstep with him on his journey through life.
Karvonen & Son Funeral Home in New York Mills is in charge of final arrangements. At John's request, a private memorial service and interment at Woodland Cemetery in New York Mills will be held at a later date. Memorials may be made to Footprints Foundation, Inc., c/o Marcie Helmeke, P.O. Box 327, New York Mills MN 56567.