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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: May 5, 2023


Frank J. Brula
Frank John Brula, 86, of Babbitt and Coal Point-Lake Vermilion, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at Essentia Health-Virginia Hospital, following the 14-day fight of his life to conquer a bacterial infection and complications which ravaged his body. A Funeral Mass and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, July 1 at St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Tower, with visitation at 9 a.m. and Mass at 10 a.m. Arrangements are with Landmark Funeral Home of Virginia.
Frank was born on Jan. 23, 1937, in Tower, the first of four boys born to Frank “Nina” and Doris Desannoy Brula and grew up proud to be a “Tower Boy” of Slovenian and French heritage. He was raised in a loving, giving, hardworking, stable home where he learned respect, a tremendous work ethic, the value of a dollar, and the value of getting an education. Some of Frank’s earliest jobs were driving dump truck and working at his Uncle Dave’s Service Station where he learned valuable skills which would allow him to problem solve and fix anything in his lifetime. He also had the unique opportunity of logging with a team of horses one winter.
Frank graduated from Tower High School in 1955 and went on to attend Vermilion Junior College (traveling by school bus between Tower and Ely), St. Cloud State College where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching (on Tuesdays he ate cheap dented-can meals), and then proudly received his Master’s Degree from North Dakota State University, after spending five summers in a program sponsored by the National Science Foundation. His first Chemistry, Physics and Math teaching position was for three years in Barnum where he began establishing his legend as a teacher; he followed it up with thirty years in Babbitt.
Teaching became a passion for Frank. He set the expectations high, as he valued his students; he was in total command of his subject matter; he had the incredible ability to clearly explain himself; and he had an uncanny knack for presenting concepts by comparisons to realistic and often funny life situations that etched understanding for a lifetime (Jello in a room; projectile out a car window; aluminum boat on the water). Frank found great joy knowing that he had positively influenced successful career choices and helped to build solid foundations for many students, and greatly appreciated the written notes of thanks and kind words of appreciation he received over the years. Students often said he taught invaluable life lessons as well. Many thanks to Frank, too, for having served as union president for a lengthy period of time; he fought long and hard for teachers.
When thinking about Frank, the enormity of the family cabin property on Coal Point of Lake Vermilion stands large. To think that everything it represents was built with blood, sweat and tears by his dad, mom and brothers, as they tore down old buildings to sell what they could to make extra money during hard times and to use what they could to build the deeply meaningful and sentimental structures. Since Frank retired from teaching in 1995, six months of each year have been spent living at the cabin and six months living in Babbitt. Cabin life is simple and basic where joy and happiness are measured by such intangibles as standing in the sauna window drinking a beer and listening to tunes, grilling in the boat slip, sitting around a campfire on the point, and, for Frank, working tirelessly to keep everything going. Thank you, Frank, for all that you have done to preserve and share the beauty, tranquility and lifestyle of the cabin. May your strong legacy guide us going forward.
As a young boy, Frank developed a genuine passion for trapping and it continued throughout his life. In fact, at age 84, he still trapped 200 beaver. He was an informed and knowledgeable trapper who enjoyed time outdoors during all the different trapping seasons whether he was scouting, laying down iron, or checking traps and snares. He was skilled and meticulous at putting up his own fur. He was a wealth of information and had a multitude of colorful stories to tell. He was proud not only of his time in the field, but of his time as a co-director of the Minnesota Trapping Association (MTA) for District One, of his status as a Certified MTA Trapping Instructor, of his leadership with the Pine Marten Nesting Box Building Project, and for his mentoring of young trappers. In addition, in his younger days, he was an avid walleye and lake trout fisherman, having caught various lunkers. He was also fortunate to have had success bagging a moose in both the U.S. and Canada.
When reflecting upon Frank’s 86 quality years, one life-altering and incredible event occurred on August 26, 1985, when he was united in marriage at Coal Point to the love of his life, Linda Korhonen, who then became Linda Korhonen-Brula. They formed a union which included the bonus of two stepchildren for Frank, stepdaughter Kaija and stepson Mathew. It turned out to be a family dynamic that brought a great deal of learning, fun, happiness and joy to the four of them. Frank respected that he was a stepdad to the kids and it was upon that foundation that relationships grew, thrived, and found incredible value and satisfaction. Over time, four grandchildren were added to the family…nine-year-old Graham, eight-year-old Eero, seven-year-old Brielle, and six-year-old Airi. Grandpa Frank, or Grandpa Goofy as he was called, reached them in the most unique ways. He was the one who could get them to haul sauna wood, stack lumber, pick up pine cones, crush cans, or rake the beach, and they would think they were having fun (when the rest of the family tried to cajole them into doing these activities, they were chores). On the flip side of the coin, he would take them tubing, for boat rides, for four-wheeler rides, or get them enthused while he read aloud to them from the Wall Street Journal. He definitely left his mark upon all of them.
As we say our final goodbyes, Frankie J., thank you for the wonderful years we had together, for your bigger than life personality, for your contagious laugh, for your fascinating stories, for your love of our Airedale, Rusty, for your keen mind, and for making our family unit so strong and caring. For a life well lived, rest in peace and we will let your legacy guide us and strengthen us in years to come.
Frank is survived by his wife, Linda; stepchildren, Kaija (husband Jan and children Eero and Airi) and Matt (wife Angie and children Graham and Brielle); brother, Tom (wife Peggy); two godsons, Jim Mustonen and Andy Brula; several cousins and their spouses; a niece; and a multitude of good friends too numerous to name. Thank you to all. You meant the world to Frank.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Nina and Dorie; brothers, David and Fred; both sets of grandparents, who influenced his life greatly; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Judith F. Ronning
Judith Faye Thornberg Ronning, 78, of Cook, passed away on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at her winter home in St. Mary’s, Ga. A visitation was held on Thursday, April 27 at Allison Memorial Chapel in St. Mary’s for her dear friends in Georgia. A visitation will also be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at Mlaker Funeral Home in Cook for her beloved family and friends in Minnesota. A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 1, in the full bloom of summer, at the First Baptist Church in Cook. Visitation will be held one hour prior. Arrangements are with Mlaker Funeral Home of Cook.
She is survived by her husband, Jon; daughters, Janell (Dean) and Jonna; son, Justin; siblings, Millie, Marylin, Sharon (John), Sheila (Loren) and Terry; two grandsons; three granddaughters; a great-grandson; and a great-granddaughter on the way.

Jennie T. Mayasich
Jennie Theresa Tavchar Pettinelli Mayasich, 96, of Virginia, died on Monday, April 24, 2023, at Edgewood Vista in Virginia. A celebration of life will take place at a later date. Family services are provided by Bauman-Vermilion, a Bauman Family Funeral Home in Tower. 
She is survived by her husband, Edward; children, Mike (Diane) Pettinelli of Tower, Tony (Debbie) Pettinelli of Mt. Iron, Dave Pettinelli of Virginia, Larry (Mary Ellen) Pettinelli of Britt and Steve (Cindy) Pettinelli of Tower; ten grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren.

Frederick R. Urbanek
Frederick “Fred” Robert Urbanek, 85, of Hobart, Ind., and Lake Vermilion-Tower, passed away at home with his family by his side on Thursday, April 20, 2023. Per his wishes, no services have been scheduled. Burns Funeral Home of Hobart is entrusted with arrangements. 
He is survived by his loving wife of almost 26 years, Shirley Urbanek; five children, Kelly (Rick) Evans, Robert Urbanek, Kathleen Urbanek, Frederick (Annie) Urbanek and Karen (Merrick) Morris; twelve grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Joseph E. Lobe
Joseph Eugene Lobe of Roseville, and Fall Lake-Ely, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 21, 2023. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon on Friday, May 5 at St. Odilia Catholic Church in Shoreview with visitation one hour prior, Afterward, friends and family are invited to a luncheon at Little Venetian in Little Canada.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Jean Borelli Lobe; son, Peter (Ivy) Lobe; daughters, Cindy (Brad) Eggen and Sheila (Mike) Nally; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews and friends.