Obituary: Melvin Russell Jokela


February 11, 2022

Melvin Russell Jokela, 74, of Esko, fell asleep in Christ, united with loved ones on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, at his home, after a brief battle with cancer. Melvin was born to Arvo and Gladys (Carlson) Jokela on Jan. 4, 1948, in Carlton. He lived in the Esko and Carlton area all his life and graduated from Carlton High School in 1966. He made meaningful lifelong friendships at the school.

He married Delores (Sunnarborg) on May 20, 1967.

He was a fifty-year-plus member and volunteer at the Apostolic Lutheran Church of Esko.

Melvin worked at Potlatch Paper Corporation for 40 years, starting in 1967 as a "runner" and working his way up to an accomplished research engineer, even holding a U.S. patent in paper coating. Mel traveled extensively in his career, many times to the Idaho and Arkansas Potlatch mills, well beyond a million airline miles. He loved playing practical jokes on co-workers, making many lifelong friends and staying connected after retirement in 2006.

B&B Market Catering & Quality Meats. On top of Big Lake Hill in Cloquet.

Mel deeply loved his family and would travel to see his sons and grandkids whenever he could. He opened his home for holidays, and welcomed family visitors and friends with bottomless cups of coffee. He loved sharing stories, laughing, loving and found the good in everyone. He enjoyed reading, sightseeing, bowling, football and attending plays. After his retirement, Mel became an amateur artist in photography, watercolor and specialized in detailed pen and ink drawing.

Melvin was preceded in death by his wife Delores Jokela; daughter Laura Jokela; parents Arvo and Gladys Jokela; and brother David Jokela.

He is survived by his sons, John (Lisa) Jokela of La Center, Washington, and Michael (Danielle) Jokela of Vancouver, Washington; four grandchildren, Benjamin, Nicholas, Timothy and Madeline; sister Maryann Jokela of Duluth; special grandchildren, Kim, Eddie, Heather, Michael; and extra special friend Claudia Conway.

The family would also like to extend a special thank you to the entire Essentia Health staff for the kind and compassionate home hospice care of Mel and his family.

Visitation: 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 11 at Atkins-Northland Funeral Home in Cloquet. Masks are required. Funeral service and burial will take place beginning at 10 a.m. May 14 at Apostolic Lutheran Church in Esko, with a memorable big lunch to follow. Sign a guest book and offer written tributes, online at

Pine Knot News Feb. 11, 2022


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