ANDERSON, S.C. - Gary W. Simonson, 58, died unexpectedly at his home in Anderson, S.C., on Thursday, August 2, 2012.
He was born in Hancock on April 14, 1954, a son of the late Kenneth and Margaret (Ruohonen) Simonson. As a youth, Gary's family resided in Redridge, later moving to Hancock, then to Onnela.
Gary attended elementary school in Redridge and Hancock, later attending Houghton schools and graduating from Houghton High School in 1972.
He attended Michigan Technological University, Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and returned to MTU where he graduated in 1978 with a BA degree in business.
As a teenager, Gary worked a summer job at Arcadian Copper Mine in Ripley as a tour guide. He often spoke of his experiences on the job throughout the years.
Following college graduation, Gary moved to Northbrook and Des Plaines, Ill., where he worked as a sales representative at the Riley Company in Skokie, Ill. He then moved to Green Bay, Wis., where he was employed st Lincoln Contractors (formerly Distributors Construction Supply and Equipment) as a sales rep for 21 years. He then moved back to the Copper Country for six years, working at AT&T (formerly Cellular One) prior to relocating to Anderson to work in real estate.
Gary was united in marriage to Debra Pyykkonen of Painesdale in May 1978. Together, they had a son, Tyler. After 27 years of marriage, they amicably went their separate ways and have since remained friends.
While growing up and residing in the area, Gary was a member of Sts. Peter & Paul Lutheran Church.
Gary had a love for playing sports, starting with Little League as a youngster. In high school, he played basketball, football and was on the track and cross country teams.
His passion was baseball, playing both softball and hardball. He played for many years in the Twilight League as second baseman for Superior National Bank where he was affectionately known as "Simba." A highlight for Gary was the season he won League title for the highest batting average. It was during those years of playing baseball that Gary formed many lasting friendships he has kept throughout his life.
Gary also played softball in Chicago and Green Bay. He enjoyed handball, golfing and downhill skiing. Racquetball was a favorite, playing many years in leagues and tournaments, winning several. He loved jogging in the outdoors, a daily ritual for him.
He loved reading non-fiction books and traveling the U.S., especially the warmer states.
Gary was an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers. He looked forward to the football season starting and was known to make a friendly bet or two on the game.
Gary was a responsible, self-disciplined individual, always setting personal and professional goals for himself. He will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Gary is survived by his son, Tyler Simonson of Atlantic Mine; two brothers, David (Marlene) Simonson of Stevens Pointe, Wis., and Rev. Chuck (Connie) Simonson of Maricopa, Ariz.; friend and mother to their son, Tyler, Debra Pyykkonen of Atlantic Mine; several aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Besides his parents, Gary was also preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Charlie Ruohonen who was alive when Gary was growing up; his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth (Perala) Ruohonen; and paternal grandparents, Walter and Hulda (Koski) Simonson.
A Memorial Service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, August 17, in Sts. Peter & Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton with Rev. Charles Simonson to officiate.
Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until time of services in the church. Interment will be in the Liminga Cemetery.
Arrangements are being handled by the Jukuri-Antila Funeral Home in Hancock, Antila Funeral Service, Inc.
Online condolences may be expressed to the family at antilafuneral.com.