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Obituaries: Donald Andrew Pykkonen

Donald Andrew Pykkonen, “Farmer Don,” 86, passed away at home from complications of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 5, 2021, not more than 100 yards from where he was born.

Donald was born during a blizzard on Jan. 5, 1935, to Andrew and Hulda Mary (Helberg) Pykkonen in Thomson Township. It was there on the family farm that he spent his entire life. He was the middle of five children, with four sisters. Finnish was Donald’s native language and once he went to Washington School in Cloquet in 1941 he began learning English.

He farmed the homestead owned by his father and grandfather. The Pykkonens are one of the area’s oldest pioneer families.

In 1952 he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard, where he served for six years. In his early years he worked at various jobs besides the farm. He worked was a bus driver and mechanic for the Esko school district and retired in 1973 to devote his full time to the dairy farm.

Don was very inquisitive, as a result he read about many different topics and skills. With a manual, it seemed he could learn how to fix just about anything. He had a very kind heart and was willing to help his family, neighbors, and friends when they needed it. Donald was also a member of the Carlton County Extension Service committee for nine years.

As a member of St. Matthews Lutheran Church, Don, along with Ardy, were able to go on two mission trips to Haiti (2005 and 2008) to work on the construction of an orphanage.

Donald was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Ardeth (Malluege) Pykkonen; sisters Helen Koski and Milly Virgin; and brothers-in-law Tom McKeever and Paul Koski.

Donald is survived by children Craig (Lynn) Pykkonen of Laporte, Susan (John) Nelson of Burnsville, and Brent (Leah) Pykkonen of Esko; sisters Edna McKeever and Mavis (Richard) Singpiel; and six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all who loved and cared for Don during his extended fight with pancreatic cancer, including dear family and friends along with Dr. Alkaied, the nurses at the Lakeview Infusion Clinic and the Whiteside Institute for Clinical Research.

Celebration of Life: Don and Ardy will be honored at a service beginning at 1 p.m. Sept. 18 at St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko with visitation one hour prior. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the St. Matthews 1918 Memorial Fund or the American Cancer Society. Lunch and fellowship will follow in the Family Life Center. Burial will be in St. Matthews Cemetery. A video-recording of the service will be available on St. Matthews Lutheran Church Facebook page. To sign the guestbook and offer an online tribute, see http://www.atkins northlandfuneralhome.com.

Pine Knot News, Sept. 17, 2021