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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries - June 21, 2019


Loretta F. Zabinski

Loretta Frances Zabinski, 94, of Ely, died on Saturday, June 15, 2019, surrounded by family and friends. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday, June 20 at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely. Arrangements were with Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.

Loretta was born on June 25, 1924, in South Bend, Ind., the daughter of Modest and Sophie (Budnik) Borkowski. Loretta attended St. Joseph’s Academy in South Bend and was active in the Young Christian Workers’ Catholic Action movement through the University of Notre Dame. On Nov. 18, 1950, Loretta married Eugene Zabinski, a native of St. Cloud. They lived and worked in Chicago, Ill., then moved to Huron, S.D., and then to Hollandale and Abbotsford, Wis., where Eugene worked in the public schools. Offered yet another teaching job, they moved with their growing family to Ely in 1961 and made it their permanent home.

Loretta was active in numerous community volunteer roles and, with Eugene, received a Certificate of Commendation from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for their extensive volunteerism. She was a member of St. Anthony’s Parish Council, the Ely Arthritis Education and Support Group, Ely Health Council, and Minnesota Shared Housing Alliance.

Loretta maintained a list of available rentals as a volunteer service for Ely-area newcomers seeking housing. She fielded these calls until the day before she died, connecting newcomers with local landlords to pay forward the kindness of others who helped her family when they first moved to Ely.

Loretta is survived by her brother, Ron Borkowski; seven children, Ed (Mary Pat) of Grand Rapids; Mary of Albuquerque, N.M.; Joe of Hardwick, Vt., Ann Pizzitola (Dale) of Summit, Wis.; Charles (Deditra) of Bloomington; Cathy (Remy) of Bozeman, Mont.; and Paul (Bryce) of Annandale; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene.

Bonnie J. Christensen

Bonnie Jo Paul Christensen, 68, of Ely, passed away at her home on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Her funeral was held on Wednesday, June 19. Donations can be made in Bonnie’s memory to cancer research at the Mayo Clinic.

She is survived by her daughters, Kayla Christensen and Bethany (Scott) Christensen-Kunz; sisters, Judy (Tom) Lehtinen, Vicki (Jerry) Baumann and Jan Shambow; brother, Jim Paul; grandchildren, Bryn, Brentley, Evan, Jordyn and Tristan.

E. Virginia Smith

E. Virginia Torkkola Smith, 89, of Babbitt, passed away on Monday, June 10, 2019, at the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely. Thanks to the employees of Boundary Waters Care Center, Carefree Assisted Living and Ely Bloomenson Hospital. A private family burial will be held in the Waasa Cemetery. Memorials may be made to East Range Hospice. Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.

She is survived by her daughter, Leanne L. Smith of Babbitt; sons, Walter (Pam) Smith of Benson, Ariz., Lewis (Pat) Smith of Duluth, Robert (Julie) Smith and Jon (LuAnn) Smith, both of Babbitt; sister, Delores Murphy of Grand Rapids; special daughter-in-law, Wendy Beaulieu; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and numerous step-grandchildren and step-great-grandchildren.


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