The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Irene (Maki) Keski


March 26, 2018

WAKEFIELD, Mich. - After an incredible surge of strength combined with Sisu, Irene (Maki) Keski, 96, a life-long resident of Wakefield, passed away peacefully on Friday afternoon, March 23, 2018.

Irene was born on Aug. 16, 1921, the eighth child of twelve born at home to Sylvester and Maija Liisa (Nisula) Maki. At the age of 11 when her mother passed away after a battle with cancer, Irene assumed many maternal and domestic chores. As payment for doing those chores, her father gave her a dime three times each week so she could see the new movie at the theater in the Community Building. None of her friends had money for a ticket, so Irene walked alone from her home in Castile. She graduated from Wakefield High School in 1939, and then traveled to Waukegan, Illinois to seek employment. She worked at Abbott Laboratories in North Chicago.

On April 4, 1942, Irene and Wayne Keski (who had also relocated to Waukegan) were married at the St. Mark's Lutheran church parsonage in Waukegan. They set out for Wakefield on their honeymoon, deciding while they were there, to remain in Wakefield permanently. Irene and Wayne therefore enjoyed a 61-year-long honeymoon until Wayne's passing on February 17, 2003.

Irene was a life-long member of All Saints Lutheran Church, the Wakefield Senior Citizens Club and the VFW Auxiliary.

In 1964, Irene went to work as a nurse aid at the Gogebic Medical Care Facility until 1976, when she underwent brain surgery and was not allowed to return to work. Irene had many interests throughout her life such as arts and crafts, ceramics, playing board games and card games. She learned to knit through an instructional book in her early married life, going on to knit probably thousands of items. In earlier years, she liked to attend weekly quilting sessions at the church. Irene was an avid reader, too, and she also liked to solve crossword puzzles. Many at GMCF will remember seeing her knitting!

In addition to her parents, Irene was predeceased by all her siblings, Laura Jarvenpaa (1984), Arne (1934), Vienna Bennett (2012), Sam (1994), Hilda Bidwell (1993), Toivo (1919), Arvo (1979), Reino (1983), Martha (1929), Sulo (1972) and Nels (1998).

Irene is survived by her three children, Marilyn (Ray, deceased) Lock, Judy (Bob) Salmela, and John Keski; six grandchildren, Wendy (Dave) Guinn, Ray Lock, Jr., Kristin Miller, Erin (fiancé Jim Linn), Cassandra (fiancé Jim Rickon) and Matt Keski. She is also survived by eight great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren, two sisters-in-law, Helvia (Sam) Maki and Laura (Henry) Keski, a brother-in-law, Len (Edie) Keski of Battle Creek. Many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews also survive.

The family sincerely offers their deepest gratitude to the staff at GMCF for the loving care shown to our mother during her three and a half-year residency. We appreciate everything you did for her.

Cremation has taken place. Pastor Bill Jacobson will officiate at a memorial service at All Saints Lutheran Church on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 11 a.m. Visitation will be on Wednesday morning from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the church. Spring burial will take place next to Wayne.

The Frick-Zielinski Funeral Home in Bessemer is entrusted with funeral arrangements. For more information and to express condolences, please visit

In lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be established with donations being forwarded to All Saints Lutheran Church.


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