PAINESDALE — Donald J. Heikkila, 74, a resident of Painesdale, died Saturday, July 22, 2017, at UP Health System-Marquette, with family by his side.
He was born in Liminga, on June 1, 1943, a son of the late, William and Inez (Strang) Heikkila. He was raised in Liminga and attended the Liminga and Redridge Schools, and was a 1961 graduate of Houghton High School. He attended Suomi College in Hancock, and graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1966, with a Bachelor’s degree in Education.
After graduating from high school, Don worked at his brother, Bob’s gas station in Houghton, and throughout college also worked for Gordon Jukuri at the Mobil Gas Station in Houghton, where he learned automotive skills working on foreign cars.
Don was hired in the fall of 1966 with the Hancock School System as a teacher for special education at the high school. Many of his students became his lifelong friends. In 1974, he began his career as a Special Ed consultant at the Copper Country Intermediate School District. He also served as coordinator for Vocational Education, served as General Education Director at the CCISD, and retired as Assistant Superintendent in 2000, due to ill health. After retiring, Don continued to do contract work with the CCISD until 2008.
Don married the former, Bette Lee Blom on June 27, 1970, at the First United Methodist Church in Hancock.
Don was a member of the Michigan Association of Retired School Personnel, served on the Michigan Tech Credit Union board, the Sarah Sargent Paine Historical Research Center board, and was a member of the South Range Lions Club. As a youth, he enjoyed hunting and fishing and in his later years was a ham radio operator. Don spent hours of his time doing research-his quote in life was“forever a student”.
Don will be sorely missed by his family, students and all who knew and loved him.
Surviving is his loving wife, Bette of Painesdale; his son, Don (Hiedi Hietala) Heikkila, Jr. of Oconto Falls, Wisconsin; his daughter, Lee Ann Heikkila of Marquette; two grandchildren, Leevi and Lillian Heikkila of Oconto Falls, Wisconsin; three brothers-in-law, Ted (Margaret) Blom of White Pine, Keith “Skip” (Debbie) Blom of Marquette, and John (Marcia) Blom of Ringwood, Oklahoma; several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Besides his parents, Don was also preceded in death by a brother, Robert Heikkila and his wife, Judy; and a brother-in-law, Ken Blom and his wife, Sandy.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at the Mountain View Mortuary in South Range, with Pastor Mary Laub to officiate. Visitation will be on Wednesday from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m. and one hour prior to the service on Thursday at the mortuary.
Arrangements are being handled by Antila Funeral Service, Inc.
Online condolences may be expressed to the family at antilafuneral.com.