Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Rudolph Eugene Pakonen

SAN DIEGO - Rudolph Eugene Pakonen, 85, a longtime resident of Valley Center, California, passed away peacefully in his sleep early morning Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Rudy was born Jan. 20, 1934, in Ironwood, Michigan, son of the late Toivo Arthur Pakonen and Alma Haaro Pakonen. He graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in 1953. Rudy married his first wife, Dorothy Salonen Pakonen, in 1958.

Rudy was very active in local Republican politics throughout the 1970s and was president of the Finnish American Cultural Society's New York City chapter during the U.S. Bicentennial celebration. He had invited and welcomed the president of Finland, Urho Kekkonen, to Suomi College for a large celebration of Finns throughout Michigan.

As a young man he was a popular accordion player for various bar establishments in Hurley, Wisconsin, and proudly gave accordion lessons to more than 20 students. For a year after graduation, Rudy worked as a lumberjack in the woods surrounding his hometown Ironwood. Rudy then began his career as a local driver for American Courier Services in Chicago. After moving to Chicago, he took classes at Wilbert Wright College for Economics. American Courier eventually became Purolator Corporation and Rudy worked his way up the corporate ladder and finished his career and retired with Purolator Corp. as the vice president of human resources.

Rudy married Lorraine Cohen Pakonen in March of 1979 and they lived in Garden City, New York. Rudy and Lorraine moved to San Diego in 1981 and never left. They lived in Newport Beach and Laguna Nigel for a few years where Lorraine became a real estate agent and broker for Caldwell Banker. They eventually moved onto their five acre forever home, named "The Pakorosa," where they raised miniature horses and boarded horses for friends and neighbors over the years. Rudy became a staple in the swap market weekend rituals, at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa for many and became known as "The Beef Jerky Peddler" for 25-plus years.

He is survived by his wife, Lorraine Pakonen; his two brothers, Rodney and Roland Pakonen; stepsister, Kathleen Riordan Fischer; his four children, Janice (Richard) Foley, Douglas Pakonen, Michael Pakonen and Andrea (Mark) Rasmussen (and Dorothy Salonen Pakonen); three grandchildren, Paige Foley, Thor Rasmussen and Erik Rasmussen; and his three stepsons, Ronnie Schulman, Paul Schulman and David Schulman.

Rudy was preceded in death by his parents, T. Arthur and Alma Pakonen; by his brothers, Marvin of Wausau, Wisconsin, Roger of Ironwood, and Kenny of White Pine, Michigan, as well as, his stepmother Minerva Riordan Pakonen.

A memorial service is being planned during the Haaro family reunion July 4th weekend. Details will be made available in the Daily Globe the weekend prior.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be offered to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ironwood, and "Little Finland" in Hurley, which our entire family holds special ties with as one of our family homestead cabins, the Harma House, now resides there. Rudy's Father, T. Arthur Pakonen, was one of the founding members and helped build Little Finland.

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