Shirley Maria Sarkela

Shirley Maria Sarkela, 90, of Virginia, died Monday, June 7, 2021, in the Waterview Pines.

She was born July 3, 1930 in Ely, the daughter of John and Olga (Waris) Kari, was a graduate of Embarrass High School and earned a degree in CSR Supply Management. Shirley lived in Ely, Seattle, Embarrass, and Babbitt prior to moving to Virginia in 2010. She married Robert Sarkela on Oct. 8, 1948. After his passing, Shirley married Russell Wiitala on Dec. 4, 2004 in Babbitt. Shirley was employed in Supply Management by Unity Hospital in Minneapolis and the Ely Bloomenson hospital in Ely; later she was cook at the Babbitt School, and was a homemaker. She was an avid golfer, a gifted painter with all mediums, enjoyed handiwork, and was a member of Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church in Virginia.

Shirley is survived by her husband, Russell Wiitala of Virginia; children: Susan (Larry) Kohanek of Shakopee, Terri (Doug) Elfstrom of Web Lake, Wis., Nick (Shelly) Sarkela of Jordan, Minn., Bryan (Allison) Wiitala of Mountain Iron, Cheryl (Bruce Johnson) Wiitala of St. Louis Park, Minn., Cathy (Rob Heim) Wiitala of Isanti, Minn., Janelle (Jeff) Paschke of Andover, Minn.; daughter-in-law, Sherry Wiitala of Mountain Iron; sister, Violet Moravitz of Ely; sister-in-law, Darlene Kari of Cedar, Minn.; grandchildren: Jeffrey, Amy, Landon, Tanya, Renee, Heather, Matt, Mayme, Mikael, Alex, Reeve, Melanie, Angela, Kate, Leonard, Amber, Melissa; 34 great-grandchildren; one great-great-granddaughter; extended family and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her first husband, Robert Sarkela; son, Larry Wiitala; sister, June Waseleski; and brother, Richard Kari.

The Memorial Service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 12, at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church in Virginia. Pastor Amy Janssen will officiate.

A gathering time for family and friends will begin one hour prior to the service at the church. Inurnment will take place in the Argo Cemetery in Babbitt.

Memorials are preferred.

Family services provided by Bauman-Cron, A Bauman Family Funeral Home in Virginia. To share condolences online, please see:

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