Cover photo for Mary Ellen (Anttila)  Pelkola Tarvainen's Obituary
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1935 Mary 2016

Mary Ellen (Anttila) Pelkola Tarvainen

September 14, 1935 — January 9, 2016

Mary Ellen Pelkola Tarvainen, age 80, of Covington, MI passed into the arms of Jesus on January 9, 2016, at Baraga County Memorial Hospital. She was born September 14, 1935 in Mass City, daughter of the late Isaac and Aili Anttila. On July 26, 1952, at the early age of 16, Mary became the bride of James Pelkola. She was blessed to become the mother of five children. Mary and Jim stayed in the Trout Creek area until 1963 and then journeyed to Milwaukee and then to the Detroit area. They settled in Novi until the lure of the Upper Peninsula became too strong and they returned to live in Ishpeming and then Harvey. While raising her children, Mary, always a hard worker, earned her LPN license. She practiced nursing downstate, then in Marquette, and eventually at the Baraga County Memorial Hospital. When Jim died in 1984, life became difficult, but with the help of her Lord, family, and friends, Mary found the strength to overcome. On September 4, 1992, she married Robert Tarvainen and made her home with him in Covington. His family also became family to her. Mary expressed her artistic gifts with her crafting, jewelry making, and making rag rugs on her loom. She loved gardening, canning, and baking. Nobody could top her nissu or her pickled beets. Her coffee pot was always on and her kitchen table a welcome refuge. She became active in the community in Covington including serving on the township board of trustees and the museum board. She was a people person and stayed in contact through Facebook with her many friends and extended family. Her last posting was this: My son I wish you the strength to face challenges with confidence…along with the wisdom to choose your battles carefully….I wish you adventure on your journey and may you always stop to help someone along the way….listen to your heart and take risks carefully….remember how much you are loved…I am so proud of you! She also posted a message stating that God is saying to you today, “Everything will work out. I’m in complete control. I know what the medical report says. I know what the financial situation looks like. I see the people who are coming against you. I know how big your dreams are. And hear me clearly; I will not fail you.” Mary was an active member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Covington. She loved her Lord and was anxious to exchange the challenges of failing health for heavenly raiment. She is survived by her husband, Robert Tarvainen; five children, Joseph (Judy) Pelkola of Ishpeming, Dale (Carol) Pelkola of Marquette, Patricia Olson of Andover, MN, James (Lori) Pelkola of Marquette, and Jeffery (Martina) Pelkola of Andover, MN; stepchildren Robert (Sandra) Tarvainen of Ishpeming, Scott (Sayuri) Tarvainen in Japan, Cheryl (Dave) Morin of Niagara, WI, Craig (Heather) Tarvainen of Chassel; sisters including Esther Johnson of Marquette, Anna Anttila of Calumet, Beatrice Bekkala of Novi, Vivian (Lloyd) Huotari of Howell; and brother Peter (Susan) Anttila of Lake Linden. Mary also leaves 25 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. She greatly loved each one. Mary was preceded in death by her first husband James Pelkola; her brother Richard Anttila; and her son-in-law Tracy Olson. Visitation will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Covington on Saturday, January 16th from 11-1:00 p.m. The Memorial Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. at the church with Pastor Mark Reinsch officiating. A luncheon will follow at the church. Mary would want to have friends and family celebrate her going home to Heaven. She will be dearly missed here on earth. Burial will be in the spring in the Agate Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Jacobson Funeral Home in L'Anse. Friends may sign Mary’s guest book or send condolences at .

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