Howard Victor Paakkonen, Sr., 98, passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 6, 2019, at Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Mountain Iron surrounded by his family and friends. Howard was born January 22, 1921, to Andrew and Elizabeth (Koskala) Paakkonen at their home in Cloverdale, MN. As a young boy, he attended Greenway Schools and later enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees. Beginning March of 1942, he was stationed in the Pacific where he served during WWII. Three years later, on October 7, 1945, he received an Honorable Discharge.

Veteran obit flag

After the War, the younger Howard worked with his older brother, Wayne, logging and running a sawmill. Howard always possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and decided to forge ahead in the new venture, leaving behind a self-created milk route, original tins cans and all. By 1951, he was hired by Pacific Isle Mining Company, which later became Inland Steel and is presently known as ArcelorMittal.

On June 9, 1951, a new chapter began in the life of Howard Victor Paakkonen when he was united in marriage to Elsie Snell in Hibbing. The couple began their life together at the original Paakkonen homestead in Cloverdale, welcoming seven children. The mining company moved the family to Black River Falls, WI, in 1969 and then to Britt in 1976. Howard retired in 1982 from the Minorca Mine in Virginia.

Howard was exceptionally proud of his Finnish heritage and often held phone conversations using his fluency in the language with relatives abroad. His Sisu kept him busy during 37 years of retirement. He was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the Cook VFW Post 1757, and the CCC alumni group at Ironworld. He was a true ‘jack of all trades’, and he enjoyed helping others, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his family and friends. He could often be heard exclaiming “what the put!” and shaking his head, while watching his grandchildren’s antics.

Howard is survived by his children, Howie (Cheryl) of Nashwauk, David (Debbie) of Mountain Iron, Karen (James) Fitz of Maplewood, Sue (Michael) Dahlgren of Two Harbors, Dale (Vanessa) of Mahtomedi, and Dennis (Cindy) of Wakeman, OH; 17 grandchildren; 12 great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Elsie; son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Cindy of Cook; an infant daughter; 4 sisters; and 2 brothers.


A memorial service officiated by Pastor Ellen Taube will be held on Monday, October 14, 2019, at Messiah Lutheran Church in Mountain Iron at 11 am with visitation one hour prior. Arrangements are with Range Funeral Home in Virginia. To sign the online guest book or to send condolences, please visit


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