It is with great sadness that the family of Kerttu (Gertie) Maki, nee Nurmi, announces her passing on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 in Atikokan, Ont.
Kerttu was predeceased by her parents, Kusta and Senja Nurmi; husband, Ernest; brothers, Olavi and Emil Nurmi; sisters, Lil Siegert and Lyyli (Lily) Pettis; niece, Carolyn Musick; nephews, Paul Siegert and Keith Nurmi; and great-nephews, Mathew Nurmi and Ian Larson.
Left to mourn are her sisters, Laila Lee and Senja (Harvey) Larson; sister-in-law, Bev Nurmi; nieces and nephews, Karen (Charles) Loewen, Deborah Lee (Francois D’Amours), Maurits (Kathy) Larson, Randy (Teresa) Larson, Donna (John) Phillips, Judy (David) Weum, Kathy (George) Behnke, Faye (Ernest Rollin) Bishop, Linda (Gerald) Boisvert, Ted Nurmi, Susan (Paul) Nine, Marie (Dave) Fontaine, and Lisa (Jim) Jack; as well as numerous great-nieces and nephews and many cousins and their spouses in North America and Finland.
Kerttu was born March 9, 1925 in Emo, Ont. to Senja and Kusta Nurmi. She was raised on the family farm in Dobie Township, where she enjoyed the simple rural life although times were not always easy. She enjoyed a happy childhood surrounded by the love of close siblings and parents.
Kerttu attended Mather School and completed Grade 8. Despite no further formal education, Kerttu was knowledgeable in many subjects. She was an avid reader from a very young age. Her keen interest in her surroundings, as well as in worldly topics, allowed her to converse and befriend people from all walks throughout her entire life.
She also was fluent in two languages, and her Finnish heritage and traditions were a great pride.
In 1947, Kerttu married her one love, Ernest Maki, and together they made their home and livelihood on Rainy Lake. “Ernie and Gertie,” as they were known to their friends and family, worked as property caretakers at many lakeside homes, including French’s Island and the J.A. Mathieu estate.
They also were skilled carpenters, stone masons, and dock builders, to name just a few of their varied talents.
Kerttu and Ernie were endearing characters who readily befriended the “summer folks.” Many of the summer residents became lifelong friends–extended family members. Kerttu’s door was always open and welcoming to her summer family and, in turn, the next generation of lake residents.
Kerttu and Ernie lived at their lake home for almost 30 years. After Ernie’s passing in 1977, Kerttu continued to reside alone, counting a total of 60 years at Rocky Inlet.
Kerttu was feisty, independent, and a talent extraordinaire. There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t try to fix or do. And she never met a rock that couldn’t be made into a walkway or a stone step.
While Kerttu was extremely comfortable with small boats and snowmobiles, she never bothered getting a driver’s licence. In her opinion, there was no reason to do so. Her many friends and family eagerly brought her the mail and kept her cupboards stocked.
She was welcome company on their journeys into the Fort when she no longer could avoid making the 20-km trip.
Kerttu hosted numerous family events, where laughter and food were plentiful. She was generous with her hugs and welcoming to all. There was always a pot of coffee on the go and something simmering on the back burner.
Kerttu had a passion for canning a wide assortment of jams, jellies, and pickles. Bread-making also was an ongoing activity in her household, and ever to the chagrin of her siblings, she had a propensity to have a batch of bread rising or just about to come out of the oven prior to their scheduled journey to take her to town.
Sometimes even the most mundane chore could be an easy excuse and certainly more interesting than a trip to the Fort.
During the summer months, Sundays were a ritual day of “rice porridge” and plenty of coffee, served to the congregation of family and friends who just showed up for the weekly open invitation. These gregarious occasions were used to catch up on the latest gossip and to exchange fishing tales.
Kerttu loved to converse with anyone but she especially liked to argue with her siblings, always knowing just which “button to push” to get a “rise” out of them. This was followed by her trademark laugh as she watched for the expected response.
She had a great sense of humour and, as they say, “not a mean bone in her body.”
Kerttu’s passion for family and life kept her loved ones close. Never one to mourn life’s shortcomings and with no offspring herself, she made everyone else’s children her own. In return, she was the much-loved mother, sister, aunt, and friend to everyone, always a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, offering her strong opinions and sound advice.
Kerttu could be found enjoying the company of her Scandinavian club friends, or a good book, a magazine, classical music, a yard sale, a farmers’ market, a country fair, or the beauty and majesty of animals and nature—these were amongst her many passions.
Over the years, she and Ernie had several cats and dogs; most memorable was “Princess,” their beloved dog. She treated pets like she treated people, with a loving and welcome hand. There often was a menagerie of animals visiting her home, too.
Kerttu loved flowers and gardening. Her giant dahlias were prominently displayed along with wild flowers in an eclectic assortment of containers scattered throughout the house and garden.
In 2005, due to her declining health, Kerttu moved to the extended care wing of the Atikokan General Hospital, where she became a popular resident known for her happy, loving nature and beautiful big blue eyes.
We will dearly miss her spirited personality, generous heart, cheerful nature, strong opinions, easy smile, infectious laugh, unconditional love, and welcoming arms.
Cremation has taken place and a graveside service will be held Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 at 10 a.m. at the Emo Cemetery.
The honourary pallbearers will be all of Kerttu’s nieces and nephews.
Friends and family are welcome to drop by Kerttu’s Rainy Lake home, on Rocky Inlet Road, from 1-4 p.m. for a light lunch and coffee.
In lieu of flowers, in memoriam donations may be made to the Ontario Alzheimer’s Society or to the Atikokan Hospital extended care wing.
Online condolences may be offered at www.northridgefuneralhome.com