Paavo H. Hilska

ISHPEMING, MI. – Paavo H. Hilska, age 80, longtime Ishpeming Twp. resident passed away on Friday May 31, 2013 while under the loving care of his wife Pauline and the staff at the Marquette Co. Medical Care Facility where he had resided for the past 15 months.

Paavo was born November 20, 1932 in Karelia, Finland, the son of the late Armas and Lempi (Kokkala) Hilska. Paavo was one of the original refugees of Finland and traveled around Finland before coming to New York City in 1948. He attended and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in New York. Upon his completion from schooling he became a seaman and sailed all over the world. Once, when coming to shore he met his wife to be Pauline (Forslund) Hilska at the Finn Hall in what is now downtown Harlem. They courted for 2 months and returned to Ishpeming to be married at Bethel Lutheran Church by Pastor Douglas Ollila. Paavo was then drafted into the United States Army; stationed in Germany for 2 years, receiving an honorable discharge as corporal.

Paavo then began his work career at the Marquette Co. Road Commission, where he worked for 35 years in many capacities, concluding with working as the county weighmaster. Paavo was active at the Bethel Lutheran Church, serving on the church council for 9 years; secretary for the Suomi conference for 20 years, along with Social Ministry for many years.

At age 45, Paavo picked up running and he excelled in it. He ran many marathons at regional and national levels; among them was the New York City Marathon. At the age of 50, he ran 50 miles to commemorate his birthday. When he retired from the MCRC he became a musician and played the mandolin and sang in Finnish only! He entertained with the Wil Kilpela & Friends Band for years and also with Ted Mattson. During his retirement years, he and Pauline wintered in Lake Worth, FL for 25 years.

In parallel with all these activities, Paavo was an avid outdoor sportsman, where season after another he would not miss an opportunity to hunt a deer or other type of game or catch a fish.

Paavo leaves his loving wife of 60 years, Pauline (Forslund) Hilska of Ishpeming, a sister Helmi Mainio of Stuart, FL, special loved ones Eva, Tina, Elie Rizk of Montreal, Canada, six Godchildren Liisa Annola, Dolly Narhi, Cheryl James, Courtney Schaaf, Jonathan Nyquist, and Eso Tarkainen.

Pauline will greet friends from 12:00noon until 1:00pm on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at the Bethel Lutheran Church in Ishpeming. Funeral services will follow at 1:00pm on Tuesday at the Bethel Lutheran Church with the Rev. Lauri O. Maki to officiate. Inurnment will take place at the Negaunee Cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be Elie Rizk, Douglas Collar, Theodore Matson, Jr., Wilho Kilpela, Bucky Johnson and David Holli. Memorials may be directed to the Bethel Lutheran Church, Social Ministry Fund, 333 E. Ridge St., Ishpeming, MI 49849.

Paavo’s obituary may also be viewed at where relatives and friends may leave a note of remembrance.