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Obituary: Patricia "Patty" Lila Murto

Esko resident Patricia “Patty” Lila Murto spent an outspoken, colorful life dedicated to her passions: family, community, politics and justice. A woman who strove to give voice to the voiceless, who could not for the life of her pass up a spirited debate, and whose good humor and infectious laughter delighted many, died of cancer Saturday, June 25, 2022, at St. Luke’s Hospice after a 15-month fight. She was 72.

Patty was born June 7, 1950, in Duluth to Ruby and LeRoy (Red) Hollingsworth. She attended Morgan Park School and graduated in 1968 from Esko High School. It was at Esko High School where she met William “Billy” Murto. They married in 1969, and had three sons: Matthew, Nathan and Joshua.

Patty enjoyed work and held a variety of jobs: lifeguard at Northridge Pond in Esko, Woolens, Northern City National Bank and Zenith Dredge. Patty owned and operated her own plant and flower shop, Country Craft Plants, in West Duluth. From 1981 to 2012 Patty was the director of the Volunteer Attorney program, Northland Mediation Service and the Kids First program in Duluth. In 1990, the Pine Knot honored her with their Working Woman of the Year award.

Patty also had a passion for service to her community and served on the Esko school board, two terms as a Carlton County commissioner, and served in countless leadership roles for the state and Carlton County Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. In 2015 she was inducted into the DFL Women of Distinction Hall of Fame. Patty served on foundations, boards of directors, commissions and committees too numerous to mention. For many years Patty was the co-host of the cable network political show “Harry’s Gang,” and in the recent past, “The Dragon Ladies.” Patty recently joined the Ladies of Kaleva and was serving as president of their Sampo Beach association.

Patty was preceded in death by her parents; her husband William; and in-laws Gloria and Uno Murto.

She is survived by her three sons Matthew, Nathan (Tara) and Joshua Murto; grandchildren Arianna (Matthew Lyden) Murto, Ryan and Tyler Bolen, and Nick Johnson; great-granddaughter Tyleigh Bolen; siblings Carol (John) Dalrymple of Charleston, South Carolina, Dale Hollingsworth of Esko, Lee (Carla) Hollingsworth of Wascott, Wisconsin, and Jill (Roger) Lofald of Duluth; sister-in-law Mary Ann (David) Lee of Davenport, Florida; nieces Erin (Bart) Berglund, Christy Hollingsworth, Keely (Richie) Upton, Jana (Craig Gustafson) Hollingsworth, and Kelli Anne Lee; nephews John (Cara) Dalrymple, Mike (Kim) Dalrymple and Erik (Rachel) Lofald; and many great-nieces and great-nephews.

Patty buoyed those around her with honesty, compassion and spunk. A woman of conviction and strong opinions, she was a pillar of strength for her family, who will miss her deeply.

Visitation: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 1 in St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko. Visitation will continue from 10 a.m. until the 11 a.m. funeral service Saturday, July 2, also at St. Matthews. A luncheon will follow the service in the church fellowship hall. Burial will be in St. Matthews Cemetery on North Cloquet Road in Esko. Arrangements entrusted to Atkins Northland Funeral Home, 801 14th St., Cloquet. To sign the guestbook and leave an online tribute see http://www.atkinsnorthlandfuneralhome.com.