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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Obituaries: July 21, 2023


Lucille B. Svatos
Lucille Betty Svatos, 94, of Ely, passed away on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital. Services will be held at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Ely on Tuesday, July 25, with visitation at 10 a.m. and the funeral service at 11 a.m. Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.
Lucille was born on May 21, 1929, to William and Mary Wencl in Owatonna. She grew up on a farm in Blooming Prairie and attended the country school.  On April 9, 1947, Lucille married Charles Svatos in Litomysl. They lived in Owatonna before moving to Hoyt Lakes in 1957. In 1963 they moved to Soudan. After being widowed, Lucille moved to Tower in 1990. She resided there until moving to Ely Carefree Assisted Living in 2022.
Lucille was a member of St. Martin’s Catholic Church in Tower. For many years she was a lunch lady in the Tower-Soudan schools. She enjoyed cooking, baking, bowling, reading, dancing, puzzles, and watching the Twins, but most of all spending time with her family.
Lucille is survived by her children, Ray (Shelley) Svatos, Ron (Sharon) Svatos, Mary (Kent) Jacobson and Steve (Jennifer) Svatos; grandchildren, Chris, Amy, Anthony and Nathan Bush, Jon Svatos, Sarah Barrientos (Nico), Matt (Julie) Svatos, Willy (Bria) Vosburgh, Ben (Paulina) Jacobson, Dr. Edward Jacobson, Nolan and Bryn Svatos; great-grandchildren, Bella Bush and Stella Svatos; special family members, Toon, Ashley and Adin; sister, Joan Pirkl; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles; daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Keith Bush; infant grandson, Bradley Svatos; and sisters, Marlene Hansen and Regina Wacek.

David S. Akerson
David Scott Akerson, 73, of Tower, formerly of Floodwood and Ely, passed away after a difficult battle with COPD, on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at his home. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until the 2 p.m. memorial service on Friday, July 21 at the Bauman-Cron Funeral Home Chapel in Virginia. Mr. Bill Bauman will officiate.
He is survived by his children, Jason (Mandy) Akerson of Britt and Jarin (Nathan) Houdek of Eveleth; grandchildren, Kaden, Beau and Ethan Akerson, Livia and Grayson Houdek; half-sister, Tanya Akerson of Watkins; sister-in-law, Kristin (Brian) Schlegel of Blomkest; father-in-law, Roland Leaf of Willmar; nephews, Shane (Lisa) Akerson, Kyle (Cassie) Akerson and Chad Akerson; and niece, Kaitlin (Jason) Budish.

Davin T. Branwall
Davin Tor Branwall, 50, of Minneapolis, passed away unexpectedly due to health issues at his home on Tuesday, June 20, 2023. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 25 at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, with visitation one hour prior. Lunch and fellowship will follow at 12 p.m. Interment will be in the family plot at Lakeview Cemetery in Tower at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations are preferred to his son Tristan Tor Branwall’s 529 College Fund. Arrangements are with Honsa Family Funeral Home in White Bear Lake.
Davin graduated from White Bear Lake High School in 1991 near the top of his class. He was nominated to West Point by three Minnesota Congressmen, as well as to the Naval Academy. Unfortunately, while at Mt. Hood in Oregon with the high school ski team, he fell and was injured and was disqualified. He was also active in other student activities, was inducted into the National Honor Society, was on the Student Council and earned an academic letter for all three years. Davin decided to attend the University of Minnesota and graduated with honors in 1996 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He took a job in Silicon Valley with Komag Corporation, followed by HP in California, HP in Boise, Idaho, Micron in Boise and Seagate in Minnesota.
Davin married Flavia Polignone on Oct. 15, 2004, and the joy of his life, Tristan Tor Branwall, was born on Nov. 18, 2007. Davin loved the outdoors, downhill skiing, hiking, camping, all types of fishing, and hunting. He excelled at all of them. His favorite place was his family’s cabin in Northern Minnesota. He also was proficient in all of the trades including rough carpentry, finish carpentry, furniture, electrical and plumbing, and he enjoyed doing all of them. Davin continued to play soccer and ice hockey as an adult while living in California and Idaho. He became interested in cooking as a little boy helping his mother in the kitchen. Davin maintained that interest and became a gourmet chef. He worked as a chef in several different high-end restaurants in the Twin Cities.
Davin was introduced to art when he was five-years old and attended school in Italy, where his family lived for three years; he became hooked. Davin took an art class in middle school taught by a very talented and accomplished teacher, Frank Zeller, and created wonderful art in charcoal, watercolor, acrylic and oil. He continued painting later in life and people who viewed his works offered to buy them. Davin was very spiritual, and well liked by everyone who knew him. He cared about and was passionate toward people who were down and out. Davin volunteered for a religious organization, Breakthrough Ministries, and cooked meals for homeless people, helped serve communion, and helped many individuals who were in need.
Davin will be missed by his family and many friends. Unfortunately, due to medical issues, he struggled later in life and was unable to work fulltime but continued to have a positive attitude about life and his future. He was currently working at Walgreens where he was much appreciated.
Davin is survived by his father, Lee; son, Tristan Tor; brother, Eric (Jill); sister-in-law, Michelle Branwall Harty; cousins, Lindsey, Lane, Nathan and Tyra; and ex-wife, Flavia Polignone.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Arlene Espland Branwall; brother, Lee Jr.; and grandparnts, Ernest and Mary Branwall, Carl and Esther Espland.

Lois A. Trygg
Lois Ann Wattunen Trygg, 98, of Cook, peacefully passed away on Tuesday, July 11, 2023.  A celebration of life was held on Monday, July 17 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Cook. Arrangements were with Mlaker Funeral Home of Cook.
She is survived by her daughters, Karen (Lee Pontinen) McCue of Eveleth and Harriet (John) Martinez of Surprise, Ariz.; grandchildren, Fred (Melissa) McCue, Tedd (Kelly) McCue, Scott Trygg and Tracy (Greg) LaPatka; several great-grandchildren; nieces, nephews and cousins.

Joy A. Raudio
Love is stronger than Death. 
Joy Arlene Sjoberg Raudio, 91, of Mound, originally of Tower, died on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. A graveside service will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17 at Lakeview Cemetery in Tower.
Joy was born on May 19, 1932, in Tower, the daughter of Roy and Irene Mickelson Sjoberg. She grew up and attended Tower-Soudan schools, graduating in June 1950. She played clarinet in the band and was chosen to be drum majorette for the marching band. Joy met her future husband, Roger J. Raudio, at a dance and they became engaged the day she graduated from high school. She was employed as a dental receptionist in Tower and worked at Mitchell Lake Resort in Ely on weekends. Joy and Roger were united in marriage at St. James Presbyterian Church in Tower on Jan. 6, 1951. They made their home in Ely, moving to Duluth after the birth of their first child, Sheryl. The marriage was blessed with two more girls, Gerry and Terry, while living in Duluth. The family then moved to Virginia, where their son, Roger David, was born in 1960. Joy was a loving wife and mother, raising four children, volunteering at school and in church activities as well as in the community. Joy was a great cook and made delicious baked goods for the growing family. She also worked in the hospitality industry in the food and beverage sector.
Joy and Roger relocated many times as Roger advanced in his career. Joy made many friends as the family moved from Minnesota to Michigan, back to Minnesota, lowa, Wisconsin, back to lowa, then to Long Lake in Minnesota where they lived until 1981. She enjoyed country western music, playing bingo, watching Minnesota Twins games, and spending time with family. She especially enjoyed having her grandchildren visit and taking them to the park or the pool. Joy continued to live in Long Lake until moving to Golden Valley and later to St. Louis Park. In 2019, she became a resident of Harrison Bay Senior Living of Mound, where she lived until her death.
Joy is survived by her daughters, Sheryl Sorenson, Gerry Neddermeyer (Gilbert) and Terry Tegels (Thomas); son, Roger D. Raudio; grandsons, Brent Sorenson, Anthony Tegels, Zachary Tegels, Luke Tegels, Andrew Neddermeyer and Wesley Neddermeyer; granddaughter, Alexandra Tegels Paulson; eight great-grandchildren; and numerous extended family and friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Roy and Irene Sjoberg; former husband, Roger J. Raudio; brothers, Roy Sjoberg Jr. and Terry Sjoberg; sister, Gayle Lilya; and grandson, Brian Sorenson. 
The idea is not to live forever but to create something that will. - Andy Warhol 

Merlin C. Solberg
Merlin Clayton Solberg, 88, passed away peacefully on Thursday, May 11, 2023, at Carefree Living in Babbitt surrounded by his family. A celebration of life will be held at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 22 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Babbitt, with Pastor Christina Forsythe officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to service. A private burial service will be held at Lakeview Cemetery in Tower for Merlin and his wife Maxine Anderson Solberg. Arrangements are with Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.
He is survived by his children, Jane (Thomas), Dave (Delaine) and Terry (Diane); grandchildren, Mike (Kelsey), Scott (Cheyenne), Courtney and Joshua; great-grandson, Archer; brother-in-law, Doug (Cathy); sister-in-law, Julie; and several nieces and nephews.

Richard K. Brownlee
Richard Keith “Rick” Brownlee, 68, of Roseville, originally of Embarrass, passed away unexpectedly but surrounded by family on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 21 at the State Veterans Cemetery, Hwy. 53 in Duluth, followed by a small gathering at the Cast Iron, Old Miller Trunk Hwy. in Duluth. Arrangements are with Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery in Duluth.
He is survived by his wife, Janice Hemann Brownlee; children, Dominic (Jennifer) Brownlee, Kira (Nathan) Grotelueschen, Aaron (Timothy) Brownstone, Sean (Allie) Brownlee and Logan Brownlee; grandchildren, Sophie and Kylie Grotelueschen, Beau, William and Zaydann Brownlee; brothers, Thomas Brownlee, Bradley (Denise) Brownlee and Mathew Brownlee; nieces and nephews; and several aunts.

Anerva F. Pylka
Anerva Francelia “Ann” Maki Pylka, 99, originally of Waasa and Embarrass, died on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, at Carefree Assisted Living in Babbitt, surrounded by her loved ones. A family memorial will be held at a later date. The family would like to thank Carefree Living in Babbitt for their loving care during her less than two-year stay and East Range Hospice for their compassionate care during her end days. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Spiritwood Foundation or a charity of your choice. Arrangements have been entrusted to Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.
She is survived by children, Rodney (Claudia) Pylka, Pam (Roger) Penttila and Kevin (Terri) Pylka; thirteen grandchildren and step-grandchildren; and numerous great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Helen F. Kochevar
Helen Frances Perushek Kochevar, 99, of Ely, peacefully passed away on Thursday, July 13, 2023, at Waterview Pines in Virginia, where she lived briefly after suffering a broken hip in May. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 31 at Kerntz Funeral Home in Ely with interment at the Ely Cemetery following the service. A celebration of life will follow at 12:30 p.m. at Grand Ely Lodge. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to East Range Hospice in Virginia.
She is survived by her grandchildren, Bruce Kochevar (Mary), Lynn Perrey (Ed), Fred Kochevar and Brenda Erjavec; several nieces, nephews, cousins and great-grandchildren.

Joann Olson
Joann Colt Olson, 84, of Babbitt, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at Boundary Waters Care Center. A celebration of life was held on Tuesday, July 18 at Grand Ely Lodge. Interment was at the Argo Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely. The family wishes to thank the staff at Boundary Waters Care Center who showed kindness, compassion and love to JoAnn over seven and a half-years. The family also wishes to thank the staff of Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital, Dr. Joseph Bianco and a special thanks to Dr. James Montana. Family arrangements were entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.
She is survived by her daughter, Kathleen (Jim) Crawford of Brookhaven, Miss.; son, Robert (Glenda) Lewis of Booneville, Miss.; brothers, Williams (Phyllis) Colt of Proctor and Joseph (Carol) Colt of Scanlon; grandsons, Brandon (Lynn) Crawford, Travis Olson and Bethany (Jay) Ballard; and five great-grandchildren.