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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: June 23, 2023


John D. Rykken
John D. Rykken, 85, formerly of Babbitt, passed away on Friday, June 2, 2023, in Prior Lake after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He will be laid to rest at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington with a memorial service to follow this fall.
John was born in New Ulm to Clifford and Vicky Rykken on Feb. 9, 1938.
He graduated from Minneapolis Southwest High School and continued his education at the University of Minnesota with a degree in Engineering followed by completing his masters, also at the U of M.
In 1959, he married his late wife Mayleann “Toots” Trask. They had three sons together, Ron, Bob and Tom. John worked for Control Data Corporation for over 20 years which included two tours in Europe, one in Frankfort, Germany, and the second in Brussels, Belgium. While in Europe, John and Toots had a lot of opportunity to travel and visit several countries throughout the continent.
In 1980, sharing a love for the outdoors, John and Toots purchased Timber Bay Lodge and Houseboats on Birch Lake which they successfully ran for twenty years. Throughout their time owning and operating Timber Bay, they grew the resort into one of Minnesota’s premier vacation destinations. They met many friends while at the resort and had the opportunity to enjoy the woods and water they both loved.
John was President of the Minnesota Resort and Campground Association in 1991 and was named Minnesota Resorter of the Year in 1998. In 2000, John and Toots passed the resort on to their son Ron and his wife Beth. John and Toots purchased a home on Birch Lake where they spent their summers. John continued to enjoy coming to the resort throughout his retirement to visit with guests, join into a volleyball game, or enjoy a meal. In retirement, John enjoyed playing golf and volleyball and traveling.
John is survived by his sons, Ron (Beth) Rykken of Babbitt, Bob Rykken of Prior Lake and Tom (Joni) Rykken of Credit River; six grandchildren, Kristi (Brett) Frydenlund, Cortney (Sam) Carlisle, Ben (Anna) Rykken, Bailey (Anthony) Reynolds, Tessa Rykken and Brianna Rykken; six great-granddaughters; sisters, Rodi (Dick) Whiting and Jeannie Kane; sister-in-law, Pauline Weinhaus; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Toots Rykken; parents; and older brother, Ken.

Frank Brula
Frank John Brula, 86, of Babbitt, passed away on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. A Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 1 at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Tower with burial at Lakeview Cemetery in Tower. Arrangements are by Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.

Barbara J. Richtsmeier
Barbara Jean Mehling Berg Richtsmeier, 84, longtime resident of Babbitt, left on her own terms for a long-awaited two-step in heaven with her favorite dance partner on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. She peacefully departed this world while holding her daughter’s hand. Barb’s family wants to thank the wonderful staff of Prelude Homes Compassion Cottage, who wrapped her in love during the last year of her life. Memorials are preferred to breast cancer or dementia research. A celebration of life will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday, July 2 at the Wood Lake Nature Center Fireplace Room in Richfield. Inurnment will take place in Babbitt at a later date.
She is survived by her sister; four brothers-in-law; four children and their spouses; three stepchildren and their spouses; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews; and an extended family that includes anyone who shared a meal at her table and became family forever.

Shirley M. Aronen
Shirley Mildred Saarela Aronen, 92, of Mt. Iron, formerly of Lake Vermilion and originally of Ely, died on Sunday, June 18, 2023, in the Edgewood Vista Senior Living Center. The Aronen family wishes to thank Edgewood Vista and Caring Edge Hospice for the tender care and support shown to her. Funeral services were held on Thursday, June 22 at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church in Virginia. Interment was in the East Pike Cemetery. Family services were provided by Bauman-Cron, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Virginia.
She is survived by her son, Brian (Robin) Aronen and his family Kristen Aronen, Leevi and Mikko, Ashley (Johnathon) Bishop, Graeme and Robin; daughter, Sherry Wiitala and her family Heather Wiitala, Hannah, Selina Lillian and Leonardo; and daughter, Shelley (Ed) Zeidler and her family Clayton (Emily) Zeidler, Jillian, Vienna, Genevieve and Jeff (Brandi) Zeidler; extended family and friends.