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Alice “Milly” Mildred Stenlund, age 93, was the first born of six daughters, passed away on January 11, 2024, at the Christian Park Healthcare Center, Escanaba, MI. She was born on April 26, 1930, to August and Jennie (Maki) Karasti.
A life full of energy and commitment to the many she cared for. In 1948, she married the love of her life, Lloyd Stenlund at Calvary Lutheran Church. Milly had two beautiful daughters that were the center of her life, two wonderful son-in-laws and blessed with four grandchildren and four great grandchildren who she cherished immensely. She was a faithful church member and active in her community. In 1947, she graduated from Rapid River High School, receiving the Key Award for the most extracurricular activities. Milly worked at the Rapid River Post Office for 40 years, and at one time was the Masonville Township Treasurer and Clerk. She also worked several censuses for Masonville Township and Rapid River Public Schools.
Milly volunteered many hours for the Rapid River School System and worked on every successful millage since the original millage passed to build the new school. Her other volunteer efforts include being a pre-school helper, founding member of the Rapid River Scholarship Foundation, PTA, sports booster, and tutor in the Big Brother, Big Sisters program. Milly has served on numerous local boards including the Delta County Cancer Alliance, Bay Sages, Northern Great Lakes Synod Council, ELCA, Gladstone Golf Club, past President of the American Legion Auxiliary, Four Township Senior Citizens, and the Rapid River Housing Board of Commissioners. She also chaired numerous drives, including March of Dimes and the United Way.
Milly was progressive in both her thinking and in her actions. In 1955, she was the first female elected to the Calvary Lutheran Church council and served as treasurer. Milly was very active in her church as a Sunday School teacher, sang in the choir, and worked with the ELCA’s women’s group. She was a pioneer hospice volunteer for Bay de Noc Hospice which was the first rural, in-home hospice care program in Michigan.
Amongst the many accomplishments of Milly’s, some highlights include 1947 Queen of the Hunter’s Ball at the Dutch Mill, UP State Fair Homemaker of the Year, and runner-up at the State Fair. In 1992, she was named Ms. Senior UP and was the state finals runner-up. Milly received recognition for many of her efforts including but not limited to a 2008 Rocket Award, 1999 Memorial Day Parade Grand Marshal, Delta County YMCA for being a model physical exercise enthusiast in her 60s.
Milly served on the Rapid River Housing Commission Board as Chairperson. In memory and honor of her service, the commission planted a tree at Riverside Manor, Rapid River.
Milly was an avid golfer but also enjoyed traveling, family gatherings at her home, and many other activities. She contributes her longevity and good health to taking care of herself physically, spiritually, and mentally. If Milly didn’t know you and you were in the same room with her, you would walk out as friends. Her love of life was always visible to those around her. Those closest to her would agree that Milly was blessed with a large amount of Finnish Sisu, full of determination, bravery, and inner strength. Millie once described her outlook on life as “I rejoice in the opportunities that come my way to love and serve others, for it is in giving that I receive, making everyday a celebration of life.”
Milly is survived by her daughters Lynn (Nick) Montgomery and Sally (Brian) Erkkila; grandchildren Jennifer (Jay) Miller, Jonathan Montgomery, Greg Erkkila, and Amanda (Peter) Jandro; great grandchildren Halie and John Frank Engler, and Carson and Ethan Jandro; and sister Joanne Karasti.
She was preceded in death by her grandparents Toivo and Tilda Maki; her parents; husband of 49 years, Lloyd Stenlund on September 2, 1997; son-in-law Nick Montgomery; and sisters Gladys Roberts, LaVern Brannstrom, Irene Malnor, Lorraine Moreau, and Lennea Kerns.
The funeral service for Milly will be celebrated by Pastor Terry Frankenstein at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 2023, at Calvary Lutheran Church, 10439 Wisconsin Avenue, Rapid River, MI 49878. Relatives and friends may call on the family during a time of visitation from 1:00 until 3:00 p.m. at the church. Immediately following the service, you are cordially invited to join the family for a time of fellowship, food, and refreshments at the church.
Because she was a charter board member and volunteer, in lieu of flowers, those wishing to offer an expression of sympathy are encouraged to make a memorial contribution to the Delta County Cancer Alliance, 3430 Ludington Street, Escanaba, MI 49829.
Delta County Cancer Alliance
3430 Ludington Street, Escanaba MI 49829