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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries - Jan. 18, 2019


Thomas M. Rukavina

Thomas “Tom” Martin Rukavina, 68, of Pike Township, died on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis after a battle with leukemia. The family would like to thank the talented staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center for their extraordinary care of Tom during his stay.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Virginia, with visitation beginning at 9:30 a.m. Visitation will also be held on Friday, Jan. 18 from 5-7 p.m. at Range Funeral Home in Virginia. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Tom Rukavina Scholarship Fund c/o Mesabi Range College Foundation, 1001 W Chestnut St., Virginia, MN 55792.

Tom was born to Martin “Benny” and Martha Rukavina in Virginia on Aug. 23, 1950. He grew up on northside in an ethnically diverse neighborhood with a close immediate and extended family which positively shaped his life forever.

He graduated from Virginia High School in 1968. He attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus where he graduated magna cum laude in political science, with a minor in history, in 1972. While at UMD, he met Lenore Lampi of Palo; they married in September 1973. They lived for nearly 30 years north of Virginia where they homesteaded in Pike Township and built a house together with their family and friends, using lumber they milled themselves. Tom and Lenore had two children, Ida and Victor. Tom later married Jean Cole in October 2012, adding three stepdaughters to his circle of love.

Tom was proud to have been a steelworker at Minntac like his father before him. He was also a milk truck driver in the Tower and Soudan area, which he credits as one of the reasons a Croatian/Italian learned to speak Finnish. For many years he worked as a part-time logger alongside his friend Roger Manning, in a venture they named Pike River Logging.

He also worked at Ironworld, where he recorded the oral histories of hundreds of early Iron Rangers, establishing a rich resource and legacy for generations to come. Giants Ridge in Biwabik was another employer of Tom’s and the development of the ski hill held a special place in his heart.

He began his life as a public servant on the Virginia School Board and as a Pike Township supervisor. In 1986 Tom was elected state representative to the Minnesota Legislature, representing the 5A district of Virginia and the East Range, a position he held for 26 years. After ‘retiring’ from politics to help with his first grandchild, Delia, he took a job with Congressman Rick Nolan. In 2014 Tom was elected as a St. Louis County Commissioner, a job he held until he passed away on his last official day in office.

Tom loved the Iron Range of Minnesota - its history, its natural resources and above all, the people of the Iron Range. He was a devoted public servant, answering phone calls and emails at all hours, doing his best to serve his constituents - even responding to constituents these past months from the hospital.

Tom believed that as a politician and legislator it was his duty to improve people’s lives. Throughout his career, he defended workers’ rights and union rights, seniors, education, and youth. As testimony to his dedication and hard work, the building which houses the Iron Range Engineering Program at Mesabi Range College bears his name.

He enjoyed participating in DFL politics, visiting people, incessant story-telling, cross-country skiing, camping, and tending his organic garden. He liked to travel and made special trips to meet his relatives in Italy and Croatia. He loved his family and friends and would do anything for them. His greatest wish was to spend more years with his granddaughters.

Tom will forever be known for his quick wit, his intelligence, his hard work and effectiveness, his passion, his heart, his integrity and honesty, his humor, and his dedication to improving people’s lives. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, constituents and colleagues who worked with him over the years.

Tom is survived by his wife, Jean Cole; daughter, Ida Rukavina (Jesse Dahl) of Palo; son, Victor (Michelle) Rukavina of Minneapolis; granddaughters, Delia, Lucia and Serafina; sister, Chris (Dennis) Rudy of Washington, D.C.; brother, Mark (Barbara McQueen) Rukavina of Boston, Mass., and their children Ben, Nate and Sara; brother-like cousin, John “Butch” Folman and his wife Anne of Pike Township; stepdaughters, Katie (Nick) Calvert of Mancos, Colo.; Kelsey Cole of Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Christine Cole of Ely; sisters-in-law, Liz (Paul) White of Crossville, Tenn., and Marie (Joe) Hallett of Columbus, Ohio; brother-in-law, Sid (Marilyn) Tregillis of Sylvania, Ohio; numerous cousins and their families; former spouse, Lenore Lampi (Chris Soares) of Duluth; and an enormous multitude of friends.

Tom was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Martin “Benny” and Martha; aunts and uncles, Louis and Helen Mordini, Laura and Bob Carlson, Gloria and John Folman, Michael “Mela” Rukavina, Catherine “Katie” Rukavina, Anne and Roy Thornton, Joseph “Joey” and Arlene Rukavina; cousins, Kay Marie Rukavina and Roberta Louise “Bobbi Lou” Sisler; and his beloved in-laws, Reino and Viola Lampi.

Charles C. Hoffman

Charles Chester Hoffman, 87, of Buyck, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, at the Cook Hospital. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 21 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Orr. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. A reception in honor of Charles will be held immediately following the service at the Orr American Legion in Orr. Military honors will be accorded by the Cook VFW Post 1757 Honor Guard and the Orr American Legion Post 480 Honor Guard. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Alzheimer’s Association. Arrangements are with Mlaker Funeral Home of Cook.

Charles was born to Stanley and Rose (Lasky) Hoffman on Nov. 19, 1931, in Buyck. He attended school in Buyck, graduating from Orr High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March of 1950, serving honorably until his release from duty in December of 1953. Following his Navy career, Charles entered college and earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He taught school for 28 years. Charles was also a successful business owner in Buyck. He owned the Vermilion River Tavern along with his late wife Jeanette for eleven years, and also started the operation of the Vermilion River Greens golf course in Buyck.

Charles was a very loving husband and father. He will be remembered for his activity in the community, including the Buyck Portageurs Snowmobile Club, Buyck Fire Department and Buyck Township Board; he was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. He loved to be around people and help out wherever there was a need.

Charles is survived by his children, Kevin (Ilana) Hoffman Daniel (Geraldine) Hoffman, and Scott (Mary) Hoffman, all of Buyck; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Charles was preceded in death by his wife, Jeanette; parents, Stanley and Rose; brothers, Albert, Theodore, Donald, Anthony and Stanley Jr.; and sisters, Dorothea Halverson, Jesse Rutar and Marie Sertich.


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