Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Philip A. Kolehmainen Sr.

DE PERE, Wis. — Philip A. Kolehmainen Sr., 82, of White Pine, Mich., passed away June 25, 2019, with his family by his side, at Unity Hospice in De Pere, where he had been a patient for a short time.

Phil had been valiantly battling neuroendocrine cancer for six months. It had been an enormously emotional struggle of victories and defeats. But like in all endeavors, he gave it his all. His life motto was “Never give up,” and he never did, even when things looked the bleakest.

Phil was born Dec. 13, 1936, in Hancock, Mich., and raised in Paavola. He attended schools in Detroit and San Francisco and graduated with the Hancock Central High School class of 1955. In his high school years, he worked at many jobs, but was influenced most by his work at Weider’s Tire Shop where he learned the basics of business.

After graduation, he worked for a brief time in Seattle at Boeing Aircraft and then moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College. Phil eventually made his way back to the Upper Peninsula and worked at White Pine Copper Company. He began his career at White Pine as a clerk and eventually left 16 years later as productivity manager.

While at White Pine, Phil met Sigrid “Siggie” Koski of Silver City, Mich. They were married on June 18, 1962. Together they raised two children and resided in White Pine for 57 years. They both had an unbroken love for each other and of White Pine.

Phil worked several other sales jobs after he left White Pine Copper and also taught mine safety at Michigan Tech. Ultimately, however his career circle returned to business.

In 1982, Phil opened his insurance office in the old Finnish Mutual Insurance building in Hancock. He began his work with Mutual Service Insurance and expanded the business to Houghton, Ontonagon and Ironwood. Phil won many top producer awards while at MSI.

After MSI, Phil transitioned to being an independent insurance agent and then finally to being a real estate broker. He never retired and laughed at the thought when it was brought up in conversation. He also served on many boards always hoping to improve life in his beloved Upper Peninsula and especially Ontonagon County. He was founding member of Ontonagon County Habitat for Humanity and served on the Michigan Works board, U.P. Rural Health, Ontonagon County Economic Development Corporation, Finnish American Council at Finlandia University, UP-EMS, White Pine School Board and many others.

Phil also served his country in the Michigan Army National Guard and the U.S. Naval Reserve Seabees. He was a member of the White Pine’s American Legion Nonesuch Post 462.

In 2015, Phil traveled to Finland with his daughter, Jill. He was especially pleased to meet and visit with his and Sigrid’s many relatives there. He also traveled to Australia and Portugal. Phil enjoyed jogging, biking and tennis. His drop shots in tennis were legendary and frustrating. We will miss his sense of humor. He loved a good joke or story. The simplest things in life brought him happiness like a good pasty or fish fry. Old cars and traveling down the road gave him pleasure his entire life.

Phil was preceded in death by his beloved mother, Irene (Holappa) Kuopus; father, Ernest Kolehmainen; brother, Lowell Kolehmainen; and brothers-in-law, Dale (Eileen) Koski and Ernest (Diane) Koski.

He is survived by his wife, Sigrid, of White Pine; son, Philip (Robin) Kolehmainen Jr., of Houghton; and daughter, Jill (Jeff) Senkerik, of Green Bay, Wis.

Phil is also survived by his grandchildren whom he cherished: Aaron Kolehmainen, Marinette, Adam Guernsey, Milwaukee, and Jenna Guernsey, Green Bay. Additionally, he heartily embraced being a grandpa to Alyson Senkerik, Rochester, Minn .; Rachel (Isaac) Mansur, of Dallas, and Kara Senkerik, Omro, Wis. He is also survived by numerous cousins, nephews, nieces, brother-in-law, Gilbert (Diane) Koski, Norway, Mich .; and sister-in-law, Kariina (Paul) Kelson, Sedona, Ariz.

The family would like to thank the caring staff at the Vince Lombardi Cancer Center, Green Bay, especially Dr. Karkera and nurse advocate Lindley. Special thanks to our dear family friend and VLCC RN Charlotte Ross, and finally to the entire staff at Unity Hospice.

Services for Phil and a celebration of his life will be held at White Pine Community Church, Tuesday, July 2, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m., followed by a funeral service at 11 a.m. Luncheon at the Konteka Restaurant, followed by internment at Riverside Cemetery in Ontonagon.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Ontonagon County Cancer Association or the Ontonagon County Animal Protection as Phil adored his grand dogs.

Phil was a proud Finnish-American. The family suggests wearing something blue in his memory at the service.

“If we could write a story, it would be the greatest ever told. We’d write about our Dad, for he has a heart of gold.” —Vicky Fyre