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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: June 18, 2021

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Richard A. Nelson
Richard Andrew “Rick” Nelson, 73, a lifelong resident of Tower-Soudan, died on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Essentia Health Virginia Care Center. A memorial service was held on Thursday, June 17 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower. Pastor Liz Cheney officiated. Private inurnment was in Lakeview Cemetery in Tower. Memorials are preferred and may be directed to the Immanuel Lutheran Church roof project. Family services were provided by Bauman-Vermilion, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Tower.
Rick was born on Dec. 26, 1947, in Soudan, the son of Richard O. and Elsie Bertha (Falk) Nelson. He was a graduate of, and swam competitively for, Tower-Soudan High School, and was a graduate of the University of Minnesota - Duluth. Rick served in the United States Army from May 1981 to May 1985. He attained the rank of Sargent (E-5) while stationed in the Republic of Panama and was awarded the following medals: Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Achievement Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Parachutist Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Expert Badge with M-16 BAR, and Expert Badge with Hand Grenade BAR. He returned to Tower to look after his mother while she was ill.
Rick was a creative writer and an artist; he enjoyed classical music, poetry, animals, and community service. He volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Immanuel Lutheran Church, the Tower-Soudan Historical Society, and the Potter’s Field project at Lakeview Cemetery. He cared for the grounds and sidewalks of many, many businesses and churches in Tower. Rick was a conscientious man with a beautiful soul, and a heart for helping others.
Rick would like to thank everyone who crossed his path and showed him kindness. He will be missed by many.
Rick is survived by his cousins, Andrea (Dan) Alto of Mt. Iron, Mike Alto of Mt. Iron, Linda Trucano of Virginia and John Craig Nelson of Oregon; friends, including Kay (Richard) Hanson of Tower; and all others who supported him through the years with caring donations.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and brother, David.

Michael R. Salo
Michael Richard Salo, 81, of Babbitt, passed away in the presence of family on Monday, June 7, 2021. Per his wishes, there will not be a formal service, but a time to celebrate his life. Please join the family at Tank’s Bar & Restaurant, 14 Alder Rd. in Babbitt, on Saturday, June 26 from 1-3 p.m. to share your stories and memories. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in honor of Mike Salo may be sent to Embarrass Township, 7503 Levander Rd., Embarrass, MN 55732, to be used toward the historical tours. 
Michael, Mike, or Mickey, depending on how you knew him, was born on Oct. 17, 1939. He had a long career in the railroad, starting at the DM&IR railroad for two years and followed by 40 years at Erie Mining/LTV Steel. He was an avid outdoorsman, teaching his children about hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and making wood. Other interests included building stock cars; he spent many weekends at the Hibbing and Proctor racetracks and tinkering with his machinery and tractors. He was known for his stories and lore about his Finnish heritage and the hunting shack. He could mesmerize his audience for hours on end, but you always came away with some sage advice.
Mike was well-known and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune for his deep knowledge and his engaging sauna tours throughout the Embarrass area. Everyone who knew Mike would say that the Lord blessed him with a heavy helping of sisu. 
Mike is survived by a brother, Doug (Nancy Grierson) Salo; sister-in-law, Judy Salo; five children, Teri (John) Hilden, Kim (Robin Barbeau) Salo, Jodi (Mike) Schefers, Michelle (Jared) Wagoner and Travis (Kaylyn Mattson) Salo; nine grandchildren; and a niece.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Eino and Lillian Salo; and brother, Robb Salo.

Donna M. Miller
Donna Mae Miller, 90, of Tower, died on Friday, June 4, 2021, in the Essentia Health Virginia Care Center. A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 18 at Bauman’s Vermilion Funeral Home in Tower. Pastor Liz Cheney will officiate. Visitation will begin one hour prior to the service. Interment will take place in the Restlawn Memory Gardens in Huron, S. D. Family services are provided by Bauman-Vermilion, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Tower.
Donna was born on July 6, 1930, in Huron, S. D., the daughter of Geoffrey and Alice (Anderson) Biggerstaff. She lived in Cloquet and Coleraine prior to being a longtime Tower resident. She was employed by the Cluett-Peabody Arrow Shirt Factory, and was the cleaning woman for Tower State Bank and Tower City Hall. Donna attended Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower; she enjoyed knitting and crocheting.
Donna is survived by friends, including special friends, Vickie (Gerry) Tucker of Forbes and Judy Anderson of Tower.
She was preceded in death by her parents.

Patricia A. Paciotti
Patricia Ann “Patty” Anderson Paciotti, originally of Tower, has died. A visitation for family and friends will begin at 10 a.m. with a memorial service to follow at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 19 in Cron-Sheehy Funeral Home in Eveleth. Visitation with light refreshments will continue until noon. Burial will take place in the Tower Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Gillette Children’s Hospital Foundation, 200 University Ave. East, St. Paul, MN 55101. Those who loved her are grateful for your continued thoughts and prayers.
She is survived by her brother, James; sister, Bonnie; stepchildren, Joseph Paciotti and Jennifer Harbor (née) Paciotti; grandchildren, Hannah, Gina, Rylee, Logan, Enzo and Breanna; nieces, nephews and other extended family.

Shirley M. Sarkela
Shirley Maria Kari Sarkela, 90, of Virginia, died on Monday, June 7, 2021, in Waterview Pines. A memorial service was held on Saturday, June 12 at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church in Virginia. Pastor Amy Janssen officiated. Inurnment was in the Argo Cemetery in Babbitt. Family services were provided by Bauman-Cron, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Virginia. 
She is survived by her husband, Russell Wiitala of Virginia; children, Susan (Larry) Kohanek of Shakopee, Terri (Doug) Elfstrom of Web Lake, Wis., Nick (Shelly) Sarkela of Jordan, Bryan (Allison) Wiitala of Mt. Iron, Cheryl (Bruce Johnson) Wiitala of St. Louis Park, Cathy (Rob Heim) Wiitala of Isanti and Janelle (Jeff) Paschke of Andover; daughter-in-law, Sherry Wiitala of Mt. Iron; sister, Violet Moravitz of Ely; sister-in-law, Darlene Kari of Cedar; grandchildren, Jeffrey, Amy, Landon, Tanya, Renee, Heather, Matt, Mayme, Mikael, Alex, Reeve, Melanie, Angela, Kate, Leonard, Amber and Melissa; 34 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; and extended family and friends.

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