Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ellen Mildred Santini

IRONWOOD, Mich. - Ellen Mildred Santini, 100, passed away Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, at Westgate Rehabilitation and Assisted Living Facility in Ironwood.

Ellen was born Aug. 16, 1920, in Ironwood, daughter of John and Ida (Wepsalainen) Lein, and grew up in Reno Location. She was 5 feet tall and marched through life.

She attended Ironwood schools and graduated from Luther L. Wright High School in 1938, from Gogebic Community College a year later, and immediately went to work. Her first job was "doing the books" for Morgan Lumber and Coal of Ironwood from 1941-1948 and then continued bookkeeping for her own businesses for the next 40 years.

On Sept. 20, 1947, Ellen married Domenic Santini, a handsome Italian, her great love.

With Domenic, she was a traveler and a hard-working businessperson. They owned and operated several businesses in Ironwood and Hurley over the years, including Santini Distributing Co., A Durham Co., S&S Beverage Co., Linda's Gift Shop, the Treasure House, and Santini Gift and Yarn Shop until her retirement in 1988. Ellen and Domenic danced through the U.S. to all the big bands - sometimes being the only couple on the dance floor. They spent 25 winters in Arizona and Florida with their dear friends.

Ellen loved golfing with Domenic at the Gogebic Country Club in Ironwood and later at the Eagle Bluff Golf Club in Hurley - where she competed in the couples league well into her 80s. She took great pride in her chipping and putting.

Ellen never said the word "sisu" but when her grandkids learned the concept, they immediately recognized her. She was a proud Suomalainen tyttö who spoke fluent Finnish and made awesome Italian manicotti every Thanksgiving and orange marmalade duck each Christmas. She celebrated her 83rd birthday with a vodka toast in a forest outside Joensuu, Finland.

She taught her family how to grow tomatoes and how to sew. She taught us how to ignore gossip, how to give people a second chance, how to make biscotti WITH anise (the only real way!), and her candy jar was always full.

For a decade, Ellen baked Christmas cookies for customers at Elle Stevens Jewelers. She and her friends met for coffee and toast at Ben's Place for years, calling themselves the "breakfast club." Ellen helped to run the exercise tapes at Pioneer Park. She was an exceptional knitter and loved holding classes at her yarn shop where she taught local knitters. She designed her own patterns for many sweaters and afghans throughout the years and knit dishcloths for her family until the month she passed, telling us, "every stitch is knit with love."

Ellen was deeply loved.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Ida Lein; husband, Domenic; sister, Norma; and brother, Nathan Lein.

Ellen is survived by daughter, Linda Polich (Greg) of Ironwood; son, Bernard of Marenisco; grandchildren, Adrienne Kincaide (Todd) of Napa, California, Ginger Polich, M.D. (Jonathan Cave) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Anthony Santini of Madison, Wisconsin, Lori Santini of Pismo Beach, California, and Carrie Spratt (Stephen) of Canton, Georgia; four great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

We have been blessed to have our loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother for so many years, she will be greatly missed by all of us.

The family would like to send a special thank you to the Westgate caregivers at the assisted living and skilled nursing facility for your loving care of Ellen in the past three years.

Cremation has taken place with interment at Riverside Cemetery in Ironwood.

The family has chosen McKevitt-Patrick Funeral Home to honor Ellen's legacy of life. You can leave a condolence or a tribute at