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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: Jan. 17, 2020


Roger W. Johnson
Roger Wallace Johnson, 93, of Ely, passed away on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020. A spring 2020 memorial will be planned. The family wishes to thank Paul and Marisa Haraldson, Mary Louise Icenhour and Toni Mitchell for their kind assistance at this time.
Roger was born in Chisholm in 1926. He served in the U.S. Army from 1945-46, stationed in Sendai, Japan. He married Irene May Peterson on Sept. 3, 1949. Roger was a graduate of the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology. He worked for Electromotive in LaGrange, Ill., and transferred to General Motors Tech Center in Warren, Mich., as senior manager staff engineer. Roger retired to Ely in 1981. He served as a Supervisor on the Fall Lake Township Board and as Chair of the Ely Area Ambulance Study Committee. He drafted the re-design layout for the Ely Golf Course expansion. Roger sang bass in community choirs, including the choir at Grace Lutheran Church, where he was a member. He excelled at Finnish dialect and was known for telling ethnic Finnish jokes.
He is survived by his wife of 70 years, Irene; brother, Darrel (Rosemary); daughters, Susan Johnson (Daniel Arnold), Becky Johnson, and Jody Johnson (David Paluch); seven nieces and nephews; seven grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Jean A. Holappa
Jean Adair Bystrom Holappa, 100, formerly of Tower, passed away on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at Good Samaritan Society Nursing Home in Blackduck. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at St. James Presbyterian Church in Tower with Pastor Doug Workman officiating. Visitation will be for one hour prior to the service at the church. Spring burial will be in Lakeview Cemetery in Tower. Arrangements are with Landmark Funeral Home of Virginia.

Arlee D. Olson
Arlee David Olson, 89, of Cook, passed away on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, at the Cook Hospital. A funeral service was held on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the First Baptist Church in Cook. Arrangements were with Mlaker Funeral Home of Cook.

Roberta R. Stepan
Roberta Ruth Stepan, 80, formerly of Ely, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at Corinth Rehabilitation Suites on the Parkway in Corinth, Texas. Private services will be held in Minnesota during the summer of 2020. Condolences may be made online on facebook, or mailed to Barb Bunnell, 130 Midway Circle, Lewisville, TX 75057. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Stroke Association at
Roberta was born on Aug. 9, 1939, in Ely, the oldest daughter of the late Robert John Mattila and the late Betty Ruth (Purdy) Mattila. On Sept. 5, 1959, she married Edward Anthony Stepan, who preceded her in death on July 30, 1995. Berta grew up in Ely, about 15 miles from the Canadian border. Her father worked in the iron mines and her mother worked in the ticket office of the Ely Theatre. In her early years, they lived in a small two-bedroom apartment where her mother would fill a washtub with hot water in front of the fire for everyone to take a bath. They lived through the black-outs of World War II, a polio epidemic, and the collapse of the mining tunnels under Shagawa Lake. She enjoyed watching the pontoon planes from her Grandma Purdy’s home on Shagawa Lake, camping as a Girl Scout on Fenske Lake, and being a member of the Job’s Daughters (part of the Masons and Eastern Stars).
In high school, Roberta was a member of the Water Babes synchronized swim club and the Future Homemakers of America. She dated her future husband, Ed Stepan, as a junior in high school, when he was a high school senior in nearby Tower-Soudan. She graduated in 1957 in a class of 121 students. After she got married in 1959, she worked as a stenographer until her daughters were born, Lori Ruth in 1962 and Barbara Jo in 1964.  They lived in Minneapolis until 1966 when they bought a house in Roseville, and she worked for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. After her daughters were grown, she and Ed moved to Slidell, La., across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. She worked at Gilsbar Inc. and greatly enjoyed the festivals, parades, seafood, boating and warm weather there for many years. After a stroke in 2018, she moved to Texas to be closer to her family.
She is survived by her two daughters, Lori Ruth Stepan and Barbara Jo (Stepan) Bunnell (Dean); four grandchildren, Nicole Miller (John), Jasper Van Der Sluys, Christien Van Der Sluys (Felix) and Nicolaas Van Der Sluys; great-grandson, Tyler Miller; sister, Nancy (Mattila Lakner) Sterbenk (Ted); and brother, Jack Mattila (Joanne).

William T. Bailey III
William “Bill” “Mumps” “Buck” Thomas Bailey III, 87, of Naples, Fla., and Pelican Lake-Orr, passed away suddenly on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, after falling from the spreader of a sailboat mast to the deck of his boat. He was transported by helicopter to the Trauma Center in Fort Myers where, surrounded by family, he slowly moved to a better place. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, at the Naples Museum of Military History. There will be another celebration at Pelican Lake in Minnesota on July 4, 2020. Details will follow. The family would dearly welcome your attendance at either event. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the Naples Military Museum.
He is survived by his loving wife, Lise; sons, William (fiancée Amy) and Doug (Karen); and grandchildren, William T. Bailey, Ann Blyth Bailey, Jack E. Bailey and Griffin E. Bailey.

Emma M. Ronkainen

Emma M. Miklaucic Ronkainen, 96, of Virginia, formerly of Ely, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, at the Virginia Care Center. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Monday, Jan. 13 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Virginia with Rev. Fr. Brandon Moravitz as celebrant. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia. Arrangements were with Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.
She is survived by her children, Shirley Fetzich, Donald (Sue) Ronkainen, Jerry (Sally) Ronkainen and Michael (Lynda Davis) Ronkainen; grandchildren, Kimberly (Brad) Gohman, Jason (Becky) Fetzich, Sara (Steven) Warner, Leah (Nathan Branson) Ronkainen, Aaron (Liz) Ronkainen and Bryan (Jess) Ronkainen; great-grandchildren, Gabe, Michaela, Charles, Emma, Mallory, Della, Lyla and Piper; sisters-in-law, Laurel (Myles) Butler and Phyllis Miklaucic; nieces and nephews; and special friend, Joan Gustafson.

Olga Feroni
Olga Skraba Feroni, 97, formerly of Ely, passed away on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, at Waterview Pines in Virginia. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Monday, Jan. 13 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely. Burial was in the Ely Cemetery. Family arrangements were entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.
She is survived by her son, Dennis (Mary Lou) of Virginia; granddaughter, Christina (Brien) Lumppio of Saginaw; great-granddaughters, Alina and Erika Lumppio; sisters-in-law, Myrtle Feroni and Anne Skraba; and many nieces and nephews.

David L. Stickney
David Lawrence Stickney, 81, of Embarrass, passed away on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, at his home, surrounded by his family. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17 at Range Funeral Home in Virginia with visitation for one hour prior. Deacon Dan Schultz will officiate. Arrangements are with Range Funeral Home in Virginia.
He is survived by his wife, Judith ”Judy” K. Gehlsen Stickney; children and grandchildren, Rick (Melanie Bird), Josh and Joe; Kate (Bryan Hendrickson), Mike, Alyssa and Abby; Dave Jr.; and Sara (Wes Bruemmer), Nathan, Logan, Brennan, Genevieve and Tristan; brother, Jerry; brothers and sister-in-law, Jane Haight, Jerry (Christine) and Jack Gehlsen; nieces and nephews.


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