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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries and Notices of Death


Thomas W. Aro and Renee K. Aro
Thomas William Aro, 80, of Lake Vermilion, passed away peacefully on Dec. 12, 2022. Shortly after Tom’s death his beloved wife, Renee King Aro, 80, of Lake Vermilion, passed away peacefully on Jan. 22, 2023. Please join Tom and Renee’s family for a celebration of life to be held from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 8 at the Lakeside Tent at Fortune Bay Resort Casino. Tom and Renee will be buried at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 9 at the Maple Memorial Cemetery in Maple, Wis., alongside Tom’s parents, Elmer and Ellen Aro. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Vermilion Lake Association. 
It was Tom’s father Elmer who introduced Tom and Renee. Renee was selling raffle tickets for the Miss Virginia Pageant and Elmer thought Renee was charming and might be a good influence on his slightly rebellious son.  Elmer was, of course, correct!
Tom and Renee were high school sweethearts at Virginia High School (class of 1960) and were married for over 60 years. During their life together they were blessed with three wonderful children, five grandchildren and a great-grandson. They shared many adventures and travels, and endured sorrow and loss. Through it all they were a team, a bonded pair, always working hard to support and learn from each other. 
After high school Tom attended Mesabi Junior College in Virginia, while Renee attended St. Catherine University in Saint Paul. They were married in 1962 and headed west to Tucson, Ariz., where Tom completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Arizona. After college Tom worked for Peat Marwick International as a Certified Public Accountant. Tom’s first client with Peat Marwick was the Del Webb Hotel and Casino company. Tom quickly joined Del Webb in 1967 and this led to a varied and exciting career in the hotel and gaming industry with stops in California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Mississippi, Florida and places in-between. Even after retirement Tom continued to work in the industry as a board member for the Laguna Development Corporation and the Signal Inn Association.
Renee was an amazing multitasker and while she was busy raising three children, she found time to embark on a successful career as a real estate agent and broker during the family’s time in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.  Eventually, Tom’s career took them to New Jersey where he worked to open several hotel casinos on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Their final stop before retirement was New York. Tom and Renee spent over 20 years living in Manhattan. There they embraced their love of the theater, the symphony and the opera. Renee was an amazing tour guide for all the friends and family who came to visit. She loved sharing the “insider’s tour of NYC” and embraced city living to the fullest. During her time in NYC, she received her Paralegal Certificate from New York University Institute of Paralegal Studies in 1994. Renee worked for Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf as a paralegal focusing on real estate law until her retirement.
For Tom and Renee there was only one option for retirement - the Iron Range. After being away from Northern Minnesota for forty-plus years they were excited to settle down on their beloved Lake Vermilion. Retirement was not a quiet time for Tom and Renee as they were involved in many community and volunteer organizations. Tom served as a Supervisor for Greenwood Township, was on the Board of the Mesabi Range College Foundation and was a Deacon at St. James Presbyterian Church in Tower.  Renee volunteered at the Vermilion Lake Association, the Tower Women’s Club and at St. James Presbyterian Church.
It was the sense of community and the people of the Iron Range that filled Tom and Renee’s spirit. They truly came full circle and could not imagine the end of their lives being spent anywhere else. 

Jack A. Brandt
Jack Ainer Brandt, 83, of Tower, passed away on Friday, June 23, 2023, in his home. Arrangements are pending with Range Funeral Home in Virginia.

Judith Ronning
A memorial service for Judith Ronning will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 1 at the First Baptist Church in Cook. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. Arrangements are with Mlaker Funeral Home in Cook.

Melia M. Shikonya
Melia M. Shikonya, 78, of Ely, passed away on Friday, June 23, 2023, at Waterview Pines Nursing Home in Virginia. Funeral arrangements are pending with Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.

Thomas Aro, Renee Aro, Jack Brandt, Judith Ronning, Melia Shikonya