CALUMET - Arthur E. Simila, of Calumet and formerly a longtime resident of Ahmeek, died suddenly at home on May 25, 2012.
Born on May 2, 1926, in Virginia, Minn., he moved with his family, and spent his formative years in Fulton Location. He attended the Mohawk Elementary School and Calumet High School. He enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 17. Following his discharge from the service, he obtained his GED and studied steam engineering through International Correspondence Schools.
He worked underground as a miner for Calumet & Hecla for several years, and prior to that, worked for Walt Englund at the last lumber camp to exist in Keweenaw County. He had earlier worked in Detroit for a short time, then received his Seaman's Card and worked on the Great Lakes.
Art spent 20 years at the Calumet Air Force Station as a heating engineer, and then was appointed civil engineer at the base where he continued to serve for 12 years, until his retirement in 1983.
Art was a member of Faith Lutheran Church, of Laurium, and a talented and enthusiastic member of the choir. He loved to sing in church, at Pete Antilla's "Jam Fest" in Traprock Valley, and especially to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Father Abraham remarked that when he attended Easter services with Julia at Our Lady of Peace, "Art was the choir." He was a person of great commitment and integrity whose service involvements demonstrated his love for family, home, community and nation.
He was a Life Member of the Clyde Johnston Post, American Legion, of Mohawk. He served proudly as Past Commander of the Post from 1962 to 1964. During the 1950s and 1960s, he and other members of the group formed the Clyde Johnston Post Drill Team, which performed in many holiday parades, and at Memorial Day services held at Evergreen Cemetery in Eagle River and at other Memorial Day tributes. During the great Keweenaw County Centennial in 1961, the Drill Team performances were the highlight at many of the events.
Art served on the Allouez Township School Board, and along with other board members, was instrumental in the construction of a new elementary school in Mohawk, which replaced the outdated Mohawk Elementary School.
Deeply concerned about the education of special needs children, he served on the Copper Country Intermediate School Board for 26 years. In 2011, he was awarded the Copper Country Associated School Board's Educational Leadership Award, to honor him for his many years of dedicated service.
Art helped to organize the Keweenaw Sportsmans Club during its formative years and had been an active member ever since. He also loved hockey and served as a coach in the Calumet Hockey Association when his sons were young. An avid Calumet High School hockey fan for years, he rarely missed a game. He and his wife, Julia, traveled downstate several times with the team to watch them in State Final action. Later, when his grandson, Travis, played on the Houghton High School hockey team, he shared his loyalties.
He and his wife, Julia (Pintar), along with Eino and Rose Rinne, organized the Keweenaw Kapers Square Dance Club during the Keweenaw County Centennial and continued to perform for many years. They traveled throughout the Copper Country and also appeared on WLUC-TV in Marquette.
Art loved nature and was an avid hunter and fisherman from his earliest childhood days. He fished the streams of Keweenaw County and taught his wife and all his children, and several of his grandchildren, to love fishing.
During the summer, when the family resided at their camp at Rabbit Bay, he fished for lake trout nearly every day, with Julia or one or more of his children or grandchildren. In his later years, he was accompanied by his native Estonian friend, Ed Sepp, and "Billy" the seagull who liked to perch on the boat motor.
One of his most memorable recent experiences occurred in April, when he was selected to be one of the Veterans who participated in the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., where all of these special people were recognized for their patriotic service during World War II. He especially enjoyed seeing the respect and gratefulness of the children they encountered during the day. He was particularly moved by the Vietnam War sculpture, which depicts one man holding a fallen comrade in his arms, while another, standing beside him, reaches his arms toward Heaven. Art's Guardian for the flight was Pastor Peter Vorhes.
He was loved by many lifelong friends, and his quirky sense of humor entertained everyone who knew him. He was a good man and a good friend.
He was preceded in death by one son, Michael; his parents, Gust and Esther (Kero); brothers Toivo, Edwin, Charles, Eino, Uno, Oiva; and sisters, Minerva, Esther and Martha.
Art is survived by Julia, his loving wife of 63 years; a daughter, Barbara Simila (Peter Oikarinen) and a son, Don (Kass) Simila.
Art was blessed with grandchildren and great-grandchildren who loved him dearly. His grandchildren include: Karra (Andrew) Godwin of Meridian, Miss., Ian (Stephanie) Griebel of Boston, Mass., Victoria (Jonathan) Boggs of Louisville, Ky., and Travis (Jody) Simila of Taylor, S.C.
His great-grandchildren include Ariel, Seth and Eli of Mississippi, Nicolas Griebel of Massachusetts and Hannah, Halle, and Courtney Simila of South Carolina.
His sisters include Mary (LeRoy) Kotila of Bloomington, Wis., and Maym (Robert) Jurmu of Fulton.
Funeral services will be held at Erickson-Crowley Funeral Home on Tuesday May 29, 2012, at 3 p.m. with Rev. Peter Vorhes to officiate.
Friends may call at the Erickson Crowley Funeral Home in Calumet on Tuesday from noon to 3 p.m.
Burial will be held at the Calvary Cemetery in Ahmeek.
Military Rites will be conducted by the Copper Country Veterans Association at the cemetery.
In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family suggests contributions to the Keweenaw Sportsman Club, or any other Copper Country charity of your choice.
Friends may leave condolences at ericksoncrowley.com.