LINDEN, Mich. - Vera Josephine (Niemi) Jansson, 91, formerly of Bessemer, died in peace Monday, May 12, 2014, surrounded by family, at the Argentine Care Center in Linden.
The 11th of 14 children, she was born on Aug. 24, 1922, to Andrew and Johanna (Purola) Niemi, both immigrants from Finland.
As a young woman, Vera worked first as a long-distance operator for Michigan Bell in Detroit and later as a PBX operator and receptionist at Allied Products Corp.
She married Rurik Ragnvald Jansson, also an immigrant from Finland, on her family farm in North Ironwood on April 3, 1947. They lived in Detroit and Hancock briefly before buying a house in the Harding location of South Bessemer. In 1988, they began spending winters in Linden while still spending summers in Bessemer. In 1997, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Vera attended Ironwood schools, and at the age of 50 received her licensed practical nursing degree from Gogebic Community College in 1972. Her full-time LPN work began in West Bend and Hayward, Wis., followed by more than 11 years of proud service at the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iron Mountain. She then became a part-time charge nurse at the Argentine Care Center and at the former Hammond House in Fenton.
During her nursing career, she received many awards and commendations for outstanding and superior service. After her retirement in 1998, she continued to volunteer at the Argentine Care Center for many years.
Vera was an active member of the Sharon Lutheran Church in Bessemer and later of the Bethany Covenant Church in Ironwood, and of the Linden Presbyterian Church. Her faith was a central aspect of her life. She also enjoyed events and projects relating to the Harding Community Club, local 4-H, Little Finland and the Bessemer Area Historical Society.
Relatives and friends regarded her as the "ultimate caregiver" as she often visited and helped the elderly. She also maintained regular contact by phone or letter with a long list of loved ones and enjoyed showing up at anyone's door with fresh fruit, vegetables or homemade bread or biscuit. She liked spending time with her clan more than any other fancier entertainment, and trips to Finland in 1985 and 1988 to meet relatives there were treasured experiences.
Vera is survived by four children, Cheryl (John) Sharpe, Linden, Ronald Jansson, Bessemer, Rose (Jim) Olson, Bloomington, Minn., and Pamela Jansson Glisson (J. Daniel Glisson), Wakefield; one sister, Julianna Abramson, Ironwood; sister-in-law, Laura Niemi, Ironwood; 16 grandchildren, Rachel (Ben) Rechkemmer, Rebecca (Tim) Sharpe-Mayberry, John Parker (Anita) Sharpe, Carrie (Todd) Bennett, Cathie (Daryl) Hawken, Kristen (Bob) Nation, Erin (Jeff) Critchfield, Brent (Casandra) Jansson, Jeff (Renee) Vandemark, Rob (Bekha) Vandemark, Becky Dominy, Chad Peterson, Nicole Elmahdy, Melissa (John) Konrad, Laurie (Norman) Clark, and Christopher (Mitzy) Olson; 40 great-grandchildren; three great-great-grandchildren; one granddaughter-in-law, Sharon Olson; and other relatives and friends.
Vera was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Rurik Ragnvald Jansson (1998); grandson, Steven James Olson (2009); son-in-law, Gerald John Peterson (1977); five Niemi brothers, Richard, Wilbert, Nicolas, Nante and Kaarlo; and seven sisters, Lempi Tassava, Helmi Mattson, Tyyne Salonen, Olga Kleimola, Mayme Ruona, Martha Asunto and Florence Niemi, the latter having died in infancy.
Preceded by visitation, a funeral service took place on May 16 at the Linden Presbyterian Church, with the Rev. Seth Normington officiating. A funeral lunch followed in the church fellowship hall and a committal service was held at Fairview Cemetery in Linden. The Linden Chapel of Sharp Funeral Homes handled arrangements.
A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 5 at Sharon Lutheran Church, on the corner of South Moore and East Sellar streets, Bessemer, with the Rev. Bill Jacobson officiating.
Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. within the church.
After the service, lunch will be served in the church's Kastman Hall.
Memorial contributions may be made to Sharon Lutheran Church.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at the Argentine Care Center for the competent and loving care provided to Vera in the last few years. They also would like to thank Heartland Hospice in Flint for exceptional support in Vera's final days.