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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: August 26, 2022


Joni L. Dahl
Joni Lynn Dahl, 39, of Genoa Location, rural Gilbert, died tragically on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, when her car was hit by a drunk driver on Hwy. 21 in Embarrass Township. She was a true and loyal daughter of the Iron Range who touched a multitude of lives. Funeral services will be private. A celebration of Joni’s life will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 at the Mountain Iron Community Center. Friends, colleagues and teammates are invited to join the family to share tears, laughter, memories, photos and a meal. Arrangements are with Landmark Funeral Home of Virginia.
Joni was born in Virginia on June 17, 1983, to Linda Marie Strukel Dahl and John Emil Dahl. She was raised in Genoa Location in Gilbert. Joni also attended Salolampi Finnish Language Village in Bemidji for eight summers to study Finnish, the language of her Warho and Dahl ancestors whose sisu she inherited. She was a 2001 graduate of Eveleth-Gilbert High School, where she was a champion swimmer and mentored younger members of the team. She set the school record in the 100-yard freestyle which stood for 17 years. Joni earned her undergraduate Business Administration degree at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and a master’s degree in Integrated Supply Chain Management at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Joni’s early employment opportunities took her to other regions of the country but before long she returned to her beloved Iron Range. She was a hard worker, often holding two part-time waitressing jobs while working elsewhere full-time. For the last seven years she worked as the Materials Manager at Iracore International, LLC in Hibbing. Joni didn’t just talk about improving the lives of her fellow community members, she got involved. She was the Executive Director of the Hibbing Area Chamber of Commerce, served on the Gilbert Planning and Zoning Commission, ran for a seat on the Gilbert City Council, was a board member of the Iron Range Racing Association and served as its Recording Secretary, and was a board member of Better In Our Back Yard which promotes responsible industrial development in Northern Minnesota. Joni was always there for others, inspiring and aiding them to achieve.
Words often used to describe Joni include generous, thoughtful, big-hearted, strong-willed, smart, tough, outspoken, bold, accomplished, fun-loving, confident, spirited and athletic. Joni loved playing hockey and was a goalie for Chix with Stix, a local senior men’s league, and a women’s team in Canada. She earned a brown belt in karate. Joni was an outdoors woman who fished, hunted, kayaked and gardened; she trained her dog, Lemmi, to be her bird-hunting buddy. Her cabin on One Pine Lake was her favorite place to relax. She also enjoyed riding her motorcycle and loved to spend time at the Hibbing Raceway in support of friends and the racing association.
Joni is survived by her father and stepmother, John Emil Dahl and Jackie Westby Raymond Dahl; her partner-in-life, Matt Lenci of Tower and his sons, Nico, Nolan and Nash, who Joni was helping to raise; half-siblings, Kimberly (Bradley) Day of Babbitt, Theresa (Raven) Dullea of Tacoma, Wash., and Torben Sorenson of Frederica, Denmark; step-siblings, Tim (Amy) Raymond, Terry Raymond and Tammy (Michael) Stahl; uncle, Tony Strukel of Arizona; cousins, Dennis (Jane) Dahl of Pelican Lake-Orr and Duane Caywood of Duluth; other cousins; nieces and nephews, Amanda, Amber, Aaron and Dale Jr. Boshey; great-nieces and great-nephews; numerous extended Westby family members; and a legion of heartbroken friends.
She was preceded in death by her mother, Linda Marie Strukel Dahl; grandparents, John and Alma Warho Dahl; and uncles and aunts, George (Marion) Dahl and Art (Lillian) Dahl.

Karen Karni
Karen Karni, 81, originally of Soudan, has died. A service will be held at the Tower Cemetery later this fall. An announcement will be published.
Karen was born on Jan. 10, 1941, to Carl and Bertha (Westerin) Soderberg in Soudan. She graduated as co-valedictorian of her 1959 class at Tower-Soudan High School and graduated with distinction in medical technology in 1963 from the University of Minnesota. Karen then graduated with an Ed Master’s degree in 1969 from the University of Buffalo in New York and earned a PhD in Education from the University of Minnesota. She worked as a clinical laboratory professional in Bar Harbor, Maine, Virginia, Minnesota, and Buffalo, New York. Following those years as a faculty member at the University of Buffalo, she returned to the University of Minnesota as an instructor in 1970, and served on the faculty for 30 years, attaining the rank of full professor. Karen was the Director of the Medical Technology Program for 16 years, retiring in 2000.
Karen married Michael Karni, of Cook, located at the western end of Lake Vermilion, on Dec. 26, 1964, at her family’s church in Soudan. Karen and Mike (who earned a PhD in American Studies in Immigration Studies) had two sons, Erik and Jake, each a source of great pride in their lives. Erik and Jennifer Cox were married in 1998 and they have three beautiful children. Jake has been the beloved 15-minute uncle to them, as well as the one who has kept up the Karni home in New Brighton. Life at the cabin has brought considerable joy to the family. It has also been a welcoming experience for scholars in ethnic studies as well as laboratory science scholarship. Many have worked at the dining room table Up North or pontificated on the deck.
In addition to her career, Karen traveled to many countries. over 40 in total, including Australia, Panama, Kuwait, Hong Kong, most of Europe and many times in Scandinavia. She loved these adventures. Karen was elected president of the Minnesota Society for Clinical Laboratory Science in 1992 and president of the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science in 1998. She also served on or chaired numerous U of M committees. As an academic, research and publications were important. She was the author/editor of two books, over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and 60 workshops. She also procured $1.5 million for two endowed professorships in laboratory science, the only two in the nation, together with over $250,000 for student scholarships.
Karen and Mike cherished their ethnicity, quality education, opportunities to grow and succeed, and to return good things to their professions. Still, their greatest joys were in being at the lake, enjoying family, friends and colleagues. For Karen, additional pleasures were picking berries, making jams, jellies, pickles and salsa. She believed she lived a fulfilled life, and through this voyage, wished to thank all who enriched it.
Karen is survived by her sons, Erik (Jennifer) and Jake Karni; grandchildren, Emma, Nickolas and Finn; numerous nieces and nephews; and several aunts and uncles.
Karen was preceded in death by her parents; brother; and husband.

Jesse Laakkonen
Jesse Laakkonen, 83, of Orr, departed to his heavenly home on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. Jesse had chosen to donate his body to the U of M Medical School Anatomy Bequest Program. Per his wishes, there will be no service.
He is survived by his wife, Judy; son, Curt and daughter-in-law, Wendy; granddaughter, Cassie; and great-granddaughter, Fae.

Terry R. Strong Babaamadizi Geshigikwe
Terry Rose Strong Babaamadizi Geshigikwe, 52, passed on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, after a 28-day hospital stay at St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth. She succumbed to her bodily condition surrounded by her immediate family and children, as she began her journey to the relatives who had moved on before her. A wake was held on Saturday, Aug. 13 and traditional funeral rites were held on Sunday, Aug. 14, both at the Tribal Government Building in Nett Lake. Interment was at the Nett Lake Village Cemetery. George Boshkaykin, Spiritual Advisor from Seine River Reserve, Ontario, Canada, performed and advised the family and attendees on traditional rites.  
She is survived by her mother, Rosemary Mexican Strong; children, Michael John Connor Jr. and Rhianna Mae Connor (Michael L Connor Sr., father), and Terrence Joseph Strong-Boshey (Eugene Boshey Sr., father); brothers, George Joseph Strong, George Roy Strong and Anthony Nichols; numerous uncles and aunts; many cousins, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.

Glen E. Economy
Glen E. Economy, 59, of Cook, passed away on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27 at Mlaker Funeral Home in Cook. Visitation will be held one hour prior to service. A reception will follow at the Old Muni in Cook. Donations can be directed to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Shriners Children’s Twin Cities - Arrangements are with Mlaker Funeral Home of Cook.
He is survived by his father, Norman C. Economy Sr.; children, Patrick Bonham and Ally Economy; siblings, Mary Elizabeth Dracy (Steve), Norman C. Economy Jr. (Linda Campbell), Jean Black (Douglas) and Annette Butala (Keith); dear friends, Bob Lasko and Therese Zadra; numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews; and a great-great niece and great-great nephew.