Family and friends gathered on Saturday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower to honor the memory of Janet Marie White of Embarrass. She had died at age 81, leaving behind her longtime husband Mike and their children and her two sisters.
The newspaper one day last fall had the notice of her death, that she had died unexpectedly at her home on October 20, 2020. My instinct was to call her dear sister, Kathleen Rostvit of Leonidas/West Eveleth.
Kathleen told me of the last time she had spoken with Janet, and upon finishing our conversation, I typed the recollection of what she had said.
“I talked to her Sunday,” Kathleen said. The two had exchanged pleasantries: “How are you?” ... “I’m fine... how are you?” Then Kathleen had said to Janet, “I love you,” and Janet said, “I love you too.”
Kathleen paused, then she said to me, “You never know.” No, you don’t. The events of life happen, death happens.
Her obituary read in part: Janet was born March 15, 1939, in Eveleth, the daughter of Verner and Laila (Ranta) Rasula. She was raised in Leonidas, and married Ira ‘Mike’ White on November 10, 1956. They made their home in Mountain Iron prior to moving to Embarrass about 25 years ago.
“Janet was employed as a bookkeeper for Reliable Motors, the Lenont-Peterson Clinic and K-Mart. She was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower. She enjoyed baking, cooking, sewing, quilting and caring for her family.” She was a friendly lady who liked to visit. One of the last times I saw her was at a funeral lunch four years ago and with her were her sisters, Kathleen and Louella Zappa. I took their picture, and actually got around to making prints and sending them to the “Rasula girls,” as I had labeled the photograph.
We would exchange Christmas cards and birthday cards, and in a note she had sent, she wrote about having Dorothy Nordling (a dear friend in her upper 90s who resides in Virginia) as a teacher at the old Leonidas School. I never did get around to calling Janet to say thank you. The note sat on the counter for a long time. And then it was too late for Janet died.
Janet came from good Finnish stock. Her mother Laila was the oldest of the five Ranta sisters, Signe Jackson, Ailie Aho, Ilona Ranta and Thelma Hassler, who were born and grew up in the New York Mills area. Her father Verner Rasula was also of Finnish ancestry.
Janet is survived by her husband Mike; children, Michael (Betsy Phillips) White of Angora, Mark (Dawn Aho) of Iron, Robert White of Garrison and Bonnie (Bradley) Mayry of Cherry; sisters, Louella Zappa of Coon Rapids and Kathleen (Gale) Rostvit of Eveleth; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She had a son Thomas George White, who predeceased her.
Janet was ever-smiling and cordial, just as she was the day I snapped the picture of the Rasula girls.