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.