Kirsti Maria Bucht Niemi

(November 22, 1926-October 23, 2019)

Kirsti was born at home in Detroit Michigan, the only child of Frans Mattias and Saimi (Mikkola) Bucht. Her parents were recent immigrants from Sweden and Finland, who met each other in Detroit’s Woodrow Wilson area, where many similar Finnish-Americans lived. Like others, she grew up often visiting the Detroit Finnish Cooperative Summer Camp in Wixom Michigan, where her father eventually built a cottage home. Kirsti met her future husband, Walter Niemi, at one of the Finn Camp’s regular Saturday-night dances. They were married in 1948. Kirsti and Walt had four children, who valued their Finnish heritage and continued involvement at Finn Camp.

Kirsti attended Commerce High School in Detroit and graduated from Wayne University (now Wayne State University). A stay-at-home Mom until her children were old enough to take care of themselves, she then began working to contribute financially to the family and helping her children to attend college. After working sales and clerical jobs, she passed the civil service exam to become social worker for the State of Michigan, attending to the needs of dependent children and senior citizens in Detroit.

A month away from her 93rd birthday, she died peacefully in her sleep, in her own home, of natural causes. She is survived by her four children: Karen Riley (husband Neil), Barbara Niemi, Steve Niemi, Dave Niemi (wife Kiya), and her grandchildren Matt Riley (wife Toni), and Lara Riley.

Kirsti was a beloved wife, mother, and grandmother, devoted to her family. She leaves a legacy of kindness and compassion for others with a strong attachment to her Finnish-Swedish roots. Kirsti’s smile will be missed by all who knew her. Rest in Peace.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Dementia Society of America (dementiasociety.org) or the Residential Hospice Foundation (residentialhealthcaregroup.com).

The family will welcome friends Saturday, November 2, from 1-5 PM at Kirsti’s home: 28212 Greencastle Road, Farmington Hills.

Our condolences to the Niemi family.

Joann Carol Laitinen Hall

Condolences

Joann Carol Laitinen Hall, 76, of New York, N.Y., and St. Petersburg, Fla., died on Nov. 10, 2018, at Arden Courts Memory Care Center in Seminole, Fla. Joann graduated from Mackenzie High School in Detroit, attended Wayne University until one semester from graduation, then—on the strength of a great cultural experience in Norway during an American Field Service year—moved to New York City to be on staff at AFS. After 18 years there she then served as Executive Assistant to five national directors of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. She was preceded in death by her parents, Finn Campers Uno and Elsie Laitinen, and her sister, Barbara. Survivors include her husband, David R. Hall of St. Petersburg, and her brother-in-law James Ahnemiller and his daughter Janice Finney and his sons Jason Ahnemiller, Craig Ahnemiller, and their families. Joann was an active member of her local United Methodist churches and volunteered all her life in activities involving international families. She was an avid knitter, gardener, book club member, traveler, and caregiver. 

Joann loved Finn Camp and her “Pikku Tuppa” (tiny cabin) there. Her grandfather John Laitinen was a founder of the D.F.C.S.C.A. Contributions in her memory can be made to Finn Camp at www.finncamp.org. A memorial service will be held Saturday, January 26, 2019, at First United Methodist Church of St. Petersburg, Fla., at 11:00 a.m. Anyone considering attending, however tentatively, is encouraged to be in touch with David (see contact information below) by December 1, to help in securing rooms in nearby hotels. (Some financial assistance may be available to help defray your lodging cost.) You can reach David at davidrandallhall@gmail.com or text or call to 917 204-6494.

Esther Cobb

Esther Cobb (nee Santti) died age 98 peacefully at home on April 23, 2017. Daughter of Eli and Alma Santti, among the founding members of the Finn Camp, she spent her summers at Loon Lake in those early Finn Camp days of canvas tents for camps, outhouses and no electricity, with morning milk fetched by hiking up Hopkins hill. Beloved wife (and life-time golfing partner) of the late Wayne Cobb, son as well of founders, they raised their children with summers in the camps from the day school ended in June until it resumed after Labor Day. She is the cherished mother of Ken Cobb (Betty), Pat AlFaiz (Brahim) and the late Bev Aaltonen (Scott) and the incredibly supportive and loving grandmother of Amal, Michael, Rebecca, Leila and Miriam and proud great-grandmother of Parker and Riley Boyle, Djibril Curley, Cooper Cobb and Samir Al Faiz-Eaton. And last surviving sibling of brothers Onne, Karl and Arne Santti and sister Eleanor Mustonen. Our condolence to the family.

Edwin Johannes Elkhill

Many of us Finn Campers have known Edwin as a long-time member (since 1953) and for his work with the Tax committee (chairman since 1996) and Audit committee (member since 2000). But perhaps you don’t know the story about Edwin’s last name, which doesn’t sound very Finnish. Years ago, Edwin’s grandfather and great-uncle were in the tombstone-polishing business in Quincy, Massachusetts. Many of their Irish and Italian customers had a hard time pronouncing their Finnish last name, Hirvimäki. So they changed it to Elkhill, from the Finnish hirvi  meaning “elk” and mäki (“hill”).

Edwin was born in Highland Park, Mich., on May 6, 1933, to John (“Toivo”) and Hanna Elkhill. His parents were Finn Camp founding members who built camp 118 in the 1940s. Edwin is said by others to have spoken fluent Finnish, though he didn’t make this claim for himself.

Edwin graduated from Northwest High School in 1952, following which he attended what was then Lawrence Institute of Technology, at Woodward and Puritan in Highland Park, before being drafted into the army in 1956 and serving in the Yukon Command at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. After being discharged, he served in the reserves at Fort Wayne, Mich., and continued his studies at Acme School of Design Engineering in Highland Park. Edwin worked for many years in the automotive industry, for Stellar Engineering in Warren and James Tanuery Associates in Troy. These firms worked closely with Fisher Body, then General Motors in their body shops. Edwin’s functions included serving as senior checker, writing engineering summaries, performing cost studies, monitoring tooling operations and reviewing and writing specifications for body shop operations in the assembly plants.

Edwin served on the Wixom senior citizen commission as well as doing all he did at Finn Camp, where he was known as being an avid swimmer.

A memorial will be held at Finn Camp’s clubroom on January 7 at 1:00 p.m.

Our condolences.