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Ethel Juneveve Vizanko


PORTAGE, Wis. - Ethel Juneveve Vizanko, 91, of Ironwood Township, Mich., passed away on Aug. 12, 2014, at Tivoli Skilled Nursing Facility.

She was born on May 28, 1923, in Wakefield, Mich., the oldest daughter of the late Waino Mattson and Alma (Pintamo) Mattson.

She attended a country school in Marengo, Wis. In 1933, the family moved to Ironwood, Mich., where she attended Ironwood area schools, and graduated from Luther L. Wright High School with the class of 1940.

She was married to Thomas J. Vizanko on Sept. 12, 1941, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ironwood, with the late Rev. Carl Petranek officiating. They had 13 children. They bought the former Maple Hill Dairy Farm in 1960 and finished raising their family there. Future generations of their family loved spending time at The Farm.

Ethel continued her education, earning an associate of arts degree from Gogebic Community College in 1967, a bachelor of arts from Northland College in Ashland in 1969, and a master of arts degree from Northern Michigan University in Marquette in 1977. She taught at Roosevelt School, then at Luther L. Wright High School as a reading specialist from 1969 until her retirement in 1984.

Ethel was a member of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Ironwood, a former member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, and was a member of the Michigan Education Association, having served as its local secretary. She was also a former member and treasurer of the Holy Trinity Altar Society. She volunteered at Grand View Hospital and enjoyed staying active with an exercise group at the Ironwood Township Community Center.

Ethel and Tom traveled extensively during their retirement years. She and Tom enjoyed trips to visit friends and family, and their travels took them to Finland, Alaska, Europe, Asia and Australia. From love letters during the war to tending the farm together, they had a happy marriage for 65 years. The legacy of their love continues into four generations.

Ethel will be greatly missed for her loving heart and generous spirit. She created a welcoming home, with doors always open to family and friends. Her family will miss her pies, pasties and amazing meals. She was very proud of her Finnish heritage and was fluent in Finnish and German. She valued education and she loved to read.

Ethel is survived by three sons, Thomas (Christine), Swartz Creek, Mich., John, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Joe (Maunia), Ridgewood, N.J .; eight daughters, Jeanne Olsen, Ironwood, Mary Coon, Spokane, Wash., Anne Margaret Skaarhaug, Grand Marais, Minn., Teresa Lutey, Portage, Janet (Bruce) Harma, Aurora, Colo., Ally Vizanko, Fox Point, Wis., Laura Dinges, Denver, and Carol Moore, Wesley Chapel, Fla .; 27 grandchildren; 28 great-grandchildren; seven great-great grandchildren; two nieces, Carolyn (Dave) Hamilton, Brookfield, Wis., and Jennifer Stein, Kenosha, Wis .; one nephew, Stanley Arducant, Ironwood; and a brother-in-law, Will Stein, Kenosha.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Tom, in 2007; by her infant son, James, in 1963; her daughter, Kathleen Brunke, in 2009; her grandson, David Albert, in 2013; five sons-in-law; her brother-in-law, Stan Arducant, in 1996; her sister-in-law, Helen Stein, in 2008; and her younger sister, Jeane Arducant, in May 2014.

Per Ethel's wishes, cremation has taken place.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Saturday, Sept. 20, at 11 a.m., preceded by visitation in the St. Joseph Family Room at 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Ironwood, with the Rev. Robb Jurkovich, celebrant.

Rite of committal and inurnment will follow in Riverside Cemetery, Ironwood.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Ironwood Carnegie Library, 235 E. Aurora St., Ironwood, MI 49938, or the Gogebic Community College Foundation, E4946 Jackson Road, Ironwood, MI 49938.

Ethel's obituary may be viewed online and condolences given to her family at

Arrangements have been entrusted to McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Ironwood.


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