Cover photo for Betty Jane (Saaranen)  Kuivanen's Obituary
1930 Betty 2015

Betty Jane (Saaranen) Kuivanen

April 3, 1930 — July 23, 2015

Betty Jane Kuivanen, beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother, age 85 of Baraga, MI, passed away July 23, 2015 in Corona, California.

A second-generation Finnish-American, Betty was born in Quincy Township, Houghton, Michigan to William and Ida Saaranen.  Betty attended Baraga High School, and married Gordon Kuivanen in 1951.  The couple made their home in Houghton while Gordon completed college; after which they relocated to Detroit and briefly to Biloxi, Mississippi where Gordon was stationed during the Korean War.

Returning to Rochester, Michigan, the family grew with the addition of two children, David and Beth.  They moved to Minneapolis, where the family grew again with two more children, John and Amy.  In 1970 the family moved to Denver, Colorado, after which work eventually brought Gordon to Merrill and Emmetsburg, Iowa.  Retiring from full-time work, Betty and Gordon returned to Baraga, buying a home on shores of Lake Superior.  They spent time watching the surf on the shore and the eagles above, and would spoil the various dogs and cats that showed up at the front door that knew they would find a warm home inside.  With children in California, Colorado and Texas, Gordon and Betty often made winter trips to visit family, although it was hard to get them away from the lakeshore.  Recent years have been spent in assisted living in Chino Hills, California near their children.  A trip to London, Paris and Helsinki in 2007 finally brought Betty and Gordon to the homeland.

During her career, Betty worked as a bookkeeper for Poyhonen Forest Products in the U.P., and with Gordon in Iowa at several companies that manufacture trenching and lift equipment.  She also worked and volunteered with people in alcohol addiction/recovery programs in Minnesota, Colorado and Iowa, helping countless individuals and families dealing with substance abuse.

Betty was preceded in death by Gordon in 2014 after 62 years of marriage; and is survived by children and spouses David and Karim, Beth and Jon, John and Audra, and Amy and Mike; and grandchildren Jeremy, Katie and her husband Tom, Daniel, Timothy, Lilly, Sophia and Alexa.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, August 3rd at 11:00 am at Mission United Lutheran Church in Pelkie.  Visitation will be for an hour prior to the service at the church.  Rev. John Autio will officiate.  Burial will be the Pelkie Cemetery.  A luncheon and fellowship will follow in the church hall.  The Jacobson Funeral Home of L’Anse is assisting the family.

Friends may sign Betty’s guest book or send condolences at

Donations to the Copper Country Humane Society would be appreciated.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Betty Jane (Saaranen) Kuivanen, please visit our flower store.


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