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Obituary: Jean Pyykkonen

As received from Memorial Chapel Funeral and Cremation Service:

Jean Kathryn Pyykkonen (Formerly Guzek) was born in Hancock, MI, to Rudy and Irja Pyykkonen on June 1st 1947, and made her eventual home in Chassell, MI.  Jean passed away peacefully at St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay on July 22nd, 2023.  Jean, also known as “Jeannie” by those who loved her, had been bravely fighting off chronic illness for several years when her body could no longer sustain the fight.  Her passing was gentle and peaceful, surrounded by beloved family members.

Jean and her former husband Thomas Guzek (deceased) married in 1968 and started a beautiful family.  They brought their two sons James (Jim) and Bryan into this world and gave them a life full of adventure and nature.  Jean pursued her Bachelor of Science Degree in Deaf Education and a teaching certificate in Elementary Education, graduating in 1972 from Wayne State University.  She would go on to earn her special Education credentials as well.  Jean was a dedicated educator of the deaf and hard of hearing for the Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD), working diligently with countless children and babies in the special education system.  She was a mentor, teacher, and a friend to all of her students.  At a young age, Jean was inspired by her aunt Verna Pyykkonen-Lapain who provided support for and fought for, accessibility for disabled people.  As she was so inspired, Jean was a trailblazer when it came to community interventions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing and then for the CCISD Early On program.

Jean “spoke” fluent American Sign Language and was often invited to interpret for several organizations and prominent personalities, including former Vice President Al Gore.  Jeannie was deeply humble and never boasted about her accomplishments, however, her two sons and family members are incredibly proud of these achievements.

Being the incredible woman that she was, Jean gracefully balanced being a full-time teacher and dedicated mother.  Her sons and her students are a living testament to the legacy she leaves behind.

Being a lover of music, Jean was an active member of St. Kenneth (Plymouth, MI) and St. Ignatius (Houghton, MI) church choirs.  She found joy and friendship by sharing her beautiful voice with her community.

In her retirement years, Jean dedicated her life to supporting her sisters Alice and Carol as they traversed their own health challenges.  She dedicated her time, support, and presence selflessly.  She was a generous and gentle soul who always cared for those who needed her.

Jean was preceded in death by her parents, Rudy and Iria, siblings Alan, Alice and Carol, and her former husband Thomas Guzek.

Jeannie is survived by her sons: James Guzek of Chassell, MI, Bryan Guzek and his wife Melissa (Poland) Guzek, and their three children- Rose, Benjamin, and Leo of Scituate, MA.  She is also survived by her two dogs, Finnigan and Dax, whom she adopted when her sisters passed away.

Jean was a devoted grandmother to her three grandchildren, and they will be forever changed by her love.

Jean is also survived by her two nephews, Robert Oliver (son of her sister Carol Pyykkonen-Silber) and his wife Meghan (Edmonds) Oliver, and Ian McPherson (son of her sister Alice Pyykkonen)

Jeannie is survived and also predeceased by her many cousins whom she adored most ardently; Mark and Amy Lapain, Cheryl Plummer and husband Mike, Don Lapain (recently passed), Janie Fessler (deceased), JoAnn Lapain, karen Jeffrey and her partner Roy, Susan Landis and her husband Don, Steven Pyykkonen (deceased) and his wife Carol, Scott Pyykkonen and his partner Debbie Hamana, Rob Pyykkonen and his wife Linda, Paul and Jennifer Makela and Mary and Tony Barra.

Jean always loved to get together with her cousins and their children.  As she always always said, “they were like bonus siblings”!

Finally, but equally important, Jean is survived by a loving group of women who have stood by her through times of joy, sorrow, sickness, health, challenges and triumphs.  From raising babies who turned into teens giving them a run for their money often!- these women remained incredibly close and important to Jean.  Their bond of sisterhood and peace was a fixture in Jean’s life.  Maureen Morin, Lynn Augustine, Joanne Blumhardt, Jackie Strong, Pam Fassbender, Ginny Schaller, Beth Stancher, Kim Maki and many others, including her teacher friends in Alpha Delta Kappa (ADK)

Jean will be deeply missed by all who knew her.  She will live on in our hearts and memories.  “May her memory be a blessing”

A Mass of Christian Burial for Jean will be held 11:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2023, at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in Houghton with Fr. John Martignon to officiate.  Burial will be in the Forest Hill Cemetery of Houghton.

Friends may call on Saturday, August 12, 2023, from 10 am until time of services at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church of Houghton.

To view Jean’s obituary or to send condolences to the family please visit www.memorialchapel.net.

The Memorial Chapel Funeral & Cremation Service – Chassell Chapel is assisting the family with the arrangements. 

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