BRUCE CROSSING, Mich. - Florence Haarala, 96, died Monday, June 30, 2014, in Ironwood.
She had been under the care of loving and compassionate caregivers, first at Maple Manor in Ontonagon and since 2009 at Westgate Nursing Center in Ironwood. There should be a special place in Heaven for the marvelous people who willingly and lovingly become family for the aging and failing patients in nursing homes, who often no longer remember their own families. Both staffs treated Mom with the kindness and respect that every elder deserves, and we will be forever grateful to them.
Florence was born Aug. 13, 1917, in Bruce Crossing, to Albert and Hazel (Fletcher) Gerber. She attended local schools, graduating from Ewen High School in 1934. She enrolled at Ontonagon County Normal School to become a teacher, returning to Bruce Crossing on the weekends to dance at Neuman's Grove with her new beau, Tom Haarala. Florence's first teaching position was in Topaz. In 1936, Florence married Laurie E. (Tom) Haarala, and together they reared seven children.
After working as a salesman for Burns and Company and later as proprietor of City Service Garage in Kenton, Tom became postmaster and owner of the Kenton Store Company, at which time Florence left teaching to work with Tom at both the store and post office. In the early 1950s, they created the Ottawa Shopper, a local shopping guide.
Florence lived her faith in the way she raised her family, supported her community, cherished her relatives and friends, and served her church.
Survivors include three sons, Robert (Karolyn), of Plymouth, Lawrence (Lynn), of Phelps, Wis ., and Thomas (Sharon), of Ontonagon; four daughters, Nina Humphrey, of Ewen, Jean (Martin) Keranen, of Land O'Lakes, Wis ., Mary (Duane) Leaf, of Bruce Crossing, and Ann Marie (Jeff) Haapoja, of Ironwood; 19 grandchildren, Troy, Brett, Bruce, Daniel, Kara, Jamie, Tom, Jon, Marnie, Ryan, Renee, Chad, Katy, Kellie, Stephanie, Brad, Rod, Kristin and Leslie; 24 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews and extended family members Sherry Forslund, Charlie Dickelman, Deke Routheaux and Dick Pole.
Preceding Florence in death were her parents; husband, Tom, of 63 years; brothers, Charles, Jack and Albert Francis (Boots); and granddaughter, Jana Lynn.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, July 7, at 11 a.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ewen.
Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will be in the family plot at the Kenton Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Westgate Nursing Center or any favorite charity.
The Cane Funeral Home is assisting the family.
"All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother. I remember my mother's prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life." -Abraham Lincoln.