TRAUNIK, Mich. – Beloved father, grandfather, brother, and uncle, Urho Pokela, 95, of Traunik, MI entered eternal rest after a brief illness on Friday, May 3, 2013, at Tendercare Health Center in Munising where he had been a resident for two years.
He was born on August 18, 1917, in Brantwood, Wisconsin to Matt and Adolfiina (Leppakorfi) Pokela. Urho enjoyed saying he was one of seven brothers and they all had two sisters. Both sisters survive: Helen Maki of Eben Junction and Norma Heikkinen of Prentice, WI.
Urho grew up on his family’s farm in Brantwood, helping with farm chores and their logging operation. The seven boys enjoyed organized sports, continuing to do so after high school and were known as scrappy players and runners. At one time, five of the brothers played on the same alumni basketball and community baseball teams traveling to play in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Urho, like each of his siblings, graduated from Tripoli High School and remained working for the family logging and farm operations after graduation.
Urho married Marian (Ihamaki) on August 29, 1942, in Munising, MI, relocating to Alger County in 1945, eventually joining Marian’s grandfather, John Hogan, and her uncles, Arvol and Peter Hogan, on their farm in Traunik. He built up the dairy herd and entered into partnership with their son, Marty in 1965. They retired from milking cows in 1998 and Urho went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Munising. He and Marian raised four children and actively followed their school, sport, and 4-H activities. He coached Little-League Baseball and served on many boards including Michigan Milk Producers, Chatham Lions Club, Chatham Co-operative Store, Chatham-Eben Credit Union, The Co-op Federation, Midland Co-op Regional Board of Directors, Sion Lutheran Church, and was elected as a Rock River Township trustee for several terms as well as a great supporter of many community functions and the Alger County
Historical Society. Urho was also one of the organizers of the Loudspur Threshing Company and was often called on by neighbors to help with their farm and veterinary emergencies. Both the Pokela Farm in Brantwood and the Hogan-Pokela Farm in Traunik remain within the family continue to produce crops including maple sap.
Marian and Urho’s home was a haven to many and a sure stop for coffee and treats or a hearty home-cooked meal. Urho had a quick wit, an outgoing personality, and a smile that was endearing to all. He and Marian enjoyed a loving marriage of 69 years; she preceding him in death by exactly eleven months.
That love is survived and cherished by their four children: Martin (Phyllis) Pokela, Traunik, Deane (Ruth Ann), Munising, Jill (Jack) Korhonen, Munising, Tim Pokela, Harvey and grandchildren: Mike Mineau, Escanaba, MI, Bill Powers, Des Moines, IA, Brenda (Tim) Gilbert, Green Bay, WI, Leo (Diane) Grigsby, Hansen, ID, Tara Pokela, Traunik, MI, Rene’ (Cletus) Cross, Wheaton, IL, Erin (Andrew) Haulotte, Palatine, IL, Neil Pokela, Gladstone, MI; Tammy (Jeff Hutting) Pokela, Rochester Hills, MI; Kristine (Doug) Bricco, Little Chute, WI, Paul Korhonen, Chatham, MI, and Julie Korhonen, Littleton, CO; eleven great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren as well as many nieces and nephews and special friend Maretta (Seppi) Case, Fulton, MI. He is also survived by sisters-in-law, Aggie and Tuddy Pokela, in-laws Vivian Maki, Gladys (Edward) Keto, Norma (Oswald) Salmi, Arlene (Vic) Elavsky, Richard Ihamaki, and Anne (George) Balko.
Preceeding him in death was grandson Michael D. Pokela, and brothers, John, Wilho, Leo, Waino, Carl, and Arnie.
The family wishes to thank Dick Anderson and the maintenance crew at the USFS who made their dad’s last job so fulfilling and enjoyable, Pastor Paul Kelto and Sion Lutheran church family, Alger County Commission on Aging for at home care, the staff at Tendercare Health Center for their loving attention and to all those that visited him there.
Visitation for Urho will be on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at Sion Lutheran Church in Chatham from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. followed by a funeral service at 1:00 p.m. Interment will be at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Chatham. Urho will be escorted by Randy, Bill, and Dan Maki, Paul Korhonen, Jeff Hutting, Andrew Hawlotte, Neil Pokela, and Garrison Hutting. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Sion Lutheran Memorial Fund.
His obituary and guestbook may be viewed and signed at bowermanfuneralhome.net.