Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Donald John Honkanen

HURLEY, Wis. - Donald John Honkanen, 75, of Hurley, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022.

Don was born on Sept. 7, 1946, in Ironwood, Michigan, a son of John and Jennie (Risku) Honkanen. He attended J.E. Murphy High School in Hurley and graduated in 1964. Don continued his education at Merrill Vocational School.

He joined the U.S. Army Reserves as a charter member in 1964, of the Hurley unit.

On Sept. 17, 1966, Don married Donna Willing at the Hurley Presbyterian Church. He served on the church's parish council, sang in the choir and was an elder.

Don worked several years at Bessemer Auto and White Pine Copper Mine before his civilian service employment with the Department of Defense from 1969 to 2004, retiring after 35 years. He worked at the AMSA shop in Eau Claire and the USAR Center in Hurley. Don served as 1SG for 11 years in the Army Reserves, retiring after 29 years in 1993. He was the last charter member to retire from the USAR Hurley unit.

Don enjoyed many hobbies like walking, snowshoeing, gardening, woodworking, and he especially had fun fishing and hunting with his sons and grandchildren. He was always there for anyone needing help. Don was a hard-worker with lots of determination, what the Finns call "sisu," who loved God, family and the country he served.

Don is survived by his loving wife, Donna, of 55 years; and two sons, Darren (Heather) and Dean (Monica). He was Papa to five grandchildren, Brody, Chris, McKenna, and twins, Chase and Allison. Don is further survived by a brother, Dave (Kathy); and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was predeceased by his parents; two sisters, Janice Johnson and Elaine DeMario; two brothers-in-law, Bob DeMario and Dave Gregory; and three sisters-in-law, Jenny Belmas, Gina Gallo and Venda Gallo.

Don's family would like to thank the Iron County Sheriff's Department, Beacon Ambulance, Dr. Eric Maki and the staff at Aspirus Ironwood Hospital emergency room, Jerald Rocco at Lakeside Memorial Chapel, and special thanks to our neighbor, Bill Sivula, for his help and kindness.

At Don's request, cremation will take place.

A family graveside service will be held at Riverside Cemetery in Ironwood, in the spring, where full military honors will be accorded.

Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield, Michigan, is assisting the family with their arrangements. To send online condolences please go to

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