The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Eugene Koivisto


SUGAR ISLAND, Mich. - Eugene Koivisto, 97, died peacefully in his sleep at his home on Sugar Island, on June 24, 2017, after a brief but hard fought battle with brain cancer. His ashes will be laid to rest at his family plot in Ironwood.

Eugene was born on Feb. 2, 1920, to first generation Finnish immigrants Jacob and Maria (Mattson) Koivisto in Ironwood. He was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps, working on projects that are still in use today (e.g. a swinging foot bridge over the Black River at Black River Harbor).

He served as an MP in the U.S. Army during World War II in Puerto Rico, where he had to learn his third language and also guarded Eleanor Roosevelt. He recently participated in a trip to Washington D.C. on a U.P. Honor Flight that celebrates World War II veterans by visiting the World War II Memorial and other noted sites.

Out of the service, he bought 240 acres of hardwoods along the Michigan-Wisconsin border and logged with their horse, Sandy. He tried making it in the "big city," living briefly in Chicago and Detroit, but ended up being hired by the state of Michigan and made his home back in the Northwoods in Frederic. He retired from the Department of Corrections in 1978 with a distinguished career overseeing prison crews working throughout the forests of Crawford County. He moved to Sugar Island in 1979, where he enjoyed the Finnish and senior communities, feeding his birds, planting his garden, making his own firewood (never bought a stick), taking wonderful care of his cat, Lucy, and forever puttering, always puttering.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth, of 49 years. Also preceding him were his brothers, Jack, John, Matt, Reino, Carl, William, Clifford and Raymond; sisters, Hilda Koskela and Eleanor Kivi; and a grandson, Joe.

He is survived by his sister, Ruth Johnson; stepdaughters, Susie (Tom) Kimball and Carroll (Wayne) Wheeler; three grandchildren, Tom Kimball, Laura (Kimball) Miller and Patty (Kenel) Wright; four great-grandchildren, Courtney, Ashley, Anton and Chelsea; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews and friends, many of whom will remember him as Uncle Binko or Binks, the best story teller with the amazing memory and wonderful gift of humor. He could recall and share historical facts and was especially knowledgable about the history of Erwin Township, the whole of Gogebic County and World War II.

He will be missed.

A memorial service celebrating the life of Eugene Koivisto will be held on July 5 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ironwood.

In lieu of flowers, feed your local bird population, buy treats for your neighbors' pets, or donate to your local animal shelter or historical society.


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