L'ANSE - Toini Elizabeth Heikkinen, 93, of Huron Bay in Aura, passed away early Monday morning, September 23, at Bayside Village nursing home in L'Anse, following a lengthy illness.
She was born in New Castle, Pa., October 30, 1919, the daughter of late Charles and Lydia Koski, who had emigrated from Finland.
Her father, who was employed as a steel worker, realized that Toini showed promise as a young musician. Charles was also the choir master at their church and Toini, as a youth, was his piano accompanist. She eventually won a scholarship to Oberlin College where she majored in piano and graduated with honor in 1941.
While studying at Oberlin, she met her future husband, the Reverend Jacob W. Heikkinen, of Nisula, and were married in 1940.
The couple first settled in Detroit, Mich. where Jacob served as pastor of Bethlehem Church.
Soon after World War II, Toini was solely responsible for her family while her husband was in Finland to distribute war relief funds generated by the Lutheran Church in America.
They subsequently moved to Gettysburg, Pa., where Jacob taught New Testament studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary. Toini taught piano and performed recitals as a faculty member at Gettysburg College. She served as the organist for Christ Lutheran Church. Toini was a much sought-after teacher in the local area, giving private piano lessons at home. She was very active in the Gettysburg chapter of the American Association of University Women.
Toini continued academic studies throughout her music career and earned a masters degree from Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore. She performed in master classes before the world famous pianist, Leon Fleischer.
In the L'Anse area she was the regular organist at Sacred Heart Catholic Church for a number of years, as well as at Zion Lutheran Church in Skanee, where her husband Jacob also served as pastor in his retirement. She also played the organ at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Baraga.
Toini was instrumental in starting the Baraga Land Friends of the Arts, which sponsors weekly concerts though the summer months on the L'Anse waterfront.
She taught piano regularly at her home on Huron Bay to many members of the community, continuing her love of being a music teacher. Toini judged musical students at the annual Aura Arts Association Program. Her obvious love of music was contagious and was passed on to several generations of students. They also appreciated her expertise as a teacher as well as her kind and gentle manner. She was a wonderful example and a special person in the life of her students.
Toini was an active member of the Baraga County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and served as Treasurer of the Aura Community Hall.
She was deeply involved in the upbringing and education of her three sons and very proud of them.
Toini was also a dog lover and personally trained the family's beloved black labs Muusti and Velvet.
Toini will be remembered for her generosity and warm hospitality she extended to all her family, friends and neighbors.
She was preceded in death by her husband Jacob in 1993.
Toini is survived by her sister, Sylvia Koski, 91, of New Castle, Pa.; her three sons, Jacob Heikkinen of Nisula, Alfred Heikkinen and his partner Lynn Yenko Zoiopoulos of Norridge, Ill., and Karl Heikkinen and his wife Barbara of Burtonsville, Md.; and their daughters Amy and Erika. In addition to her sons and their families, Toini is also survived by numerous and loving relatives and devoted and loyal friends in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah and Maine.
Funeral services for Toini E. Heikkinen will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 5, 2013, at Mission United Lutheran Church, Pelkie with Pastor John Autio officiating.
Interment will take place immediately following the funeral service in the Nisula Cemetery.
The family will greet friends in the Reid Funeral Service and Chapel, L'Anse on Friday, October 4, 2013 from 6 until 8 p.m. and at the church on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.
Following the interment, the family invites friends to join them for fellowship and a luncheon at Mission United Lutheran Church.
Mrs. Heikkinen's obituary may also be viewed and condolences sent to the family at rfsc.net.
The Reid Funeral Service and Chapel, L'Anse has been entrusted with the arrangements.