Viola Katherine Heikkinen, of Cheboygan, MI, formerly of Lake Worth, FL, and former summer resident of Gwinn, MI, passed away Friday evening, July 30, 2021 at McLaren Hospice House in Cheboygan, MI at the age of 87. Viola was born at home in Marquette County on February 27, 1934 to Fanni Maria (Erickson) and William Henrik Bakka (nee Grönbacke) of Merikarvia, Finland.
When Viola was a baby her mother died. She lived in foster care until the age of six. She first learned to speak English in Kindergarten. Viola married Wesley Robert Heikkinen on February 13, 1954. They lived in Northwest Detroit where their three sons were born. She attended Wayne State University part time. She was enrolled in the nurses training at Henry Ford Hospital when an illness forced her to drop out. She returned to school at age 51, earing her Bachelor of Science Degree and secondary teaching certificate from Northern Michigan University at age 54. Mrs. Heikkinen was employed as a high school teacher of social studies in South Florida. She also taught ESOL and GED classes. Additionally, she volunteered in the Palm Beach County Adult Literacy Coalition.
She was a very active member of St. Andrews Lutheran Church in Lake Worth, FL serving on the church council as well and many other capacities. Viola retired to Cheboygan in 2004 where she volunteered for a time at the hospital. She supported the CAAC and was a member of the CAPL. Viola was a member of the NMU Alumni Association, the AAUW, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Finlandia Foundation, Fla. Chapter, and St. Thomas Lutheran Church. She remained an avid reader to the end.
Viola Heikkinen is survived by her two sons, Robert of Farmington Hills, MI, and Mark of Cheboygan, MI; five nieces and nephews and cousins in the U.S. and Finland.
She was preceded in death by her son, Howard, who died unexpectedly in 1993; and her husband, Wesley Heikkinen; and two siblings, Helmi Lepisto, and Waino Bakka.
Visitation will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., Thursday, August 5, 2021 at the Rock Bible Chapel. Funeral services celebrating the life of Viola will follow at 1:00 p.m., Thursday, with Robert Heikkinen officiating. Burial will take place following the services in the Rock Cemetery. A luncheon will be served afterward at the Rock Bible Chapel. In Viola’s memory, donations may be made to The Howard Nathan Heikkinen Scholarship Fund in Broadcasting and Media Communications at Bay College, 2001 North Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829.
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