Tuisku gave lifetime of service to Hancock

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette Dick and Mary Tuisku are seen on the deck at their home in 2014. Mary Tuisku died Sunday at home. She served many years in Hancock city government.

HANCOCK — For Dick Tuisku, his wife Mary was a partner who made his life complete.

Mary Tuisku died Sunday in her home at 70 years old.

Mary was serving for the third time on the Hancock City Council, and she had more than 30 years of experience in Hancock government.

Dick said he has vision and hearing problems, which meant he relied on her to be his senses to help him negotiate daily life.

“She’s been my transportation and my eyes and ears,” he said. “She’s also been my conscience.”

Dick said Mary fought her weight for years, and she felt there was a stigma attached to that.

“She felt that very strongly,” he said. “I always told her to me she was beautiful inside and out.”

Dick said on May 11, Mary fell outside their house. The fall fractured some ribs and bruised her heart, a kidney and a lung. She went to the emergency room at UP Health System-Portage hospital.

After she returned home, she didn’t feel like eating and became dehydrated, and her kidneys shut down. She was taken to UP Health System-Marquette on Sunday. Later that night back home she passed away.

“She was watching TV with her cat by her side and died,” Dick said.

Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson said Mary served on the City Council three times for a total of 16-and-a-half years.

Besides her terms on the council, Anderson said Tuisku served as mayor, on the city’s Finnish Theme Committee, and in 1980 she was on the City Charter Committee. She also served on the Keweenaw National Historical Park Advisory Commission.

“She was the ultimate ambassador for the city of Hancock,” Anderson said. “She was very committed.”

Anderson said Tuisku was an advocate for quality development in the city, and she will be missed.

“She was a strong leader,” he said. “A lot of people, including myself, have lost a dear friend.”

Mary grew up in Lake Linden and went to school there. After graduating high school, she attended Northern Michigan University, where she majored in English but didn’t get a degree.

Mary became involved with Hancock city government in 1979 when then-city manager Dave Soulak asked her to take part. She was on the Recreation Committee.

Her first tenure on the council ended in 1988. She took some time off before deciding to run again in 1990. She was elected and chosen as mayor then, but by that time, the council members switched back to a city manager form of government. She was mayor from 1990 to 1995, the first female mayor for Hancock. She was on the council until 1998. She returned to the council again from 2002-6. Most recently, she was elected to the council in 2014.

Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie said she’s known Tuisku since McKenzie started on the council 17 years ago.

McKenzie said Tuisku was very compassionate, and she never had a personal agenda.

“She never thought about herself. She just thought about the community,” she said.

Tuisku helped her when she was first on the City Council, McKenzie said.

“She was a great role model for me,” she said. “She loved the city, and she served it well.”

Dick said June 24 would have Mary and his 50th anniversary.

“We had our trials and tribulations as all couples do,” he said. “She had her life, I had my life, and we had our life.”

There will be a visitation for Mary Tuisku from 5-8 p.m. Monday at O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home in Hancock, but there won’t be a funeral, Dick said.

“She said she didn’t want people to grieve over her,” he said.

There will be a celebration of Mary’s life on July 1 at Porvoo Park in Hancock, Dick said. A time is yet to be determined.

Dick said he appreciated Mary’s intelligence.

“She was the smarter of us two, and I don’t think either was too stupid,” he said.