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September 27, 1938 – June 29, 2024

Aila Kyllikki Keranen, age 85 of Cave Creek, Arizona passed away on June 29, 2024.  She was born second of nine children on September 27, 1938 in Heinävesi, Finland the daughter of Uuno & Martta Markkanen. She grew up in the country, attending compulsory school through eighth grade. Being the oldest girl, she helped in various tasks at home. Gently caring for her siblings & keeping the household, she learned from a young age to help & serve others, which she continued with love throughout her life. At the age of 17 she left home, first working as an au pair, then pursued schooling in home economics & home help in Joensuu, Finland.  She worked as a domestic aide (Kodinhoitaja) in Niittylahti, Finland, sent where the municipality received requests for household help.

    In 1966, Harold made a trip to Finland to attend Summer Services in Oulu. There, on the second day of his trip, he noticed a beautiful lady. Aila noticed his attention & a camera lens directed at her. Harold was enamored, sending his mother a postcard stating “I met Aila.”  Letters were exchanged over the ocean, Aila made a trip here & they were engaged in July, 1967 in New York.  On December 3, 1967 they married in Heinävesi, Finland. A week later, Aila made the move to America, a new land with a language she did not know, as well as different customs and culture.  They settled in the Minneapolis area.

    A new home was built in Dayton, MN where they happily raised 10 children in an area that afforded many options for children’s activities. Aila created a home steeped with the richness of her homeland culture & traditions. Along with Finnish foods & baked goods, the activities & ambience of the home reflected her heritage. While the usual Saturday cleaning happened, she would bake Finnish treats for the family, and, as often was the case, sauna company that frequented the home. The coffee table was nicely set with a variety of goodies, nice dishes & flowers freshly picked from the yard.  Her gift to create a beautiful home came through with her interior decorating & outdoor spaces, complete with abundant flower beds she enjoyed tending. She took care & enjoyed making home a haven for her family. Her family’s happiness was her happiness. She enjoyed time with family friends, often entertaining for seasonal festivities.

    Aila was a gentle, approachable, elegant, peaceable person with a reassuring presence & warm smile. She always had something to share with others. She was creative and had an eye for style. God gave her many gifts, including the ability to speak nicely to people, even in difficult conversations. Her delivery was kind, respectful & easy to receive. She would listen, asking questions to better understand, then gave encouragement to do what was right. She placed herself adjacent to the other, not above.

    The gift of faith was important to her. As a mother, she taught about God & the importance of knowing & obeying His word.

    She was a beautiful treasure given by God to Harold & her family. Harold feels he was allowed to live life with a giving gift, Aila.

 Preceded in death by son Arvo; grandson Matthew Skoog; great-grandson Greyson Ojalehto; parents Uuno and Martta Markkanen; parents-in-law Henry and Hilda Keranen; sister Riitta Juvonen; brother Esa Markkanen; sisters-in-law: Edna Mae Felak, Arlene Arvola & Cindy Keranen and brothers-in-law: Roland Keranen, Louis Lazur, Elmer Keranen, Art Haverinen, Steven Felak, Eero Juvonen, Esko Ukkonen, Bill Rath & Raimo Eskelinen.

 Aila is survived by her loving husband: Harold; children: Roland, Ann (Aaron) Parks, Mia (Eric) Skoog, Riitta (Hannu) Huhdanpaa, John (Liza), Saara (Leo) Loukusa, Risto (Deidre), Hanna (Matt) Honga, Marita (Brett) Rintamaki; 56 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, 6 siblings, in-laws, other relatives and friends.

 A visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 beginning at 3:30 P.M. with a funeral service at 5:30 P.M. at the Minneapolis Laestadian Lutheran Church, 13030 47th Avenue North, Plymouth, Minnesota.

 A graveside service and burial will be held on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 with visitation starting at 10:30 A.M. and service at 11:00 A.M. at St. Fridolin Cemetery in Champlin, Minnesota.

 Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to The Peterson Chapel of St. Michael-Albertville, St. Michael, Minnesota. On-line condolences can be directed to

3 Guestbook Entries

  1. John and Barb Lehto

    Our sympathy, thoughts and prayers for God’s presence and comfort to be with Harold and family.

  2. Cheryl rintamaki

    My sympathy to Harold and family.

  3. Mauri and Sirpa Kinnunen

    Let our warmful sympathy, thoughts and prayers be with you, Harold and family.
    Many warm memories are connected to Aila, the oldest from the time when Aila lived in Niittylahti, Finland. And later many, many times to a welcoming and beautiful home in Minnesota


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