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March 29, 1937 – February 4, 2023

Kenneth Gerald Hill passed away surrounded by his family at the age of 85 on Saturday, February 4, 2023, in Buffalo, Minnesota.

He was born to Ernest and Fanny (Wuottinen) Hill on March 29, 1937, in Wakefield, Michigan, and spent his childhood near Marenisco, Michigan. After graduating high school, Ken joined the U.S. Navy with his cousin John Hill. Ken served in the Navy from 1955 until 1959.

After serving his country, Ken attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1965. He taught for a year in a country schoolhouse in Frazee, Minnesota, before taking a job in South Range, Michigan. He retired as a teacher from the Marquette Branch Prison at age 62

It was love at first sight when Ken Hill saw Pirjo Poytakangas at church in Hancock, Michigan. Shortly after they met, they were married on December 21, 1968. Ken and Pirjo were blessed with twelve children. They raised their family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Ken and Pirjo attended Laestadian Lutheran Churches in Ishpeming and later in Brainerd, Minnesota, where they settled after retirement. Their faith was most important, a sustaining power through life’s joys and challenges.

In his youth, Ken enjoyed diving Lake Superior shipwrecks. Throughout his life, he enjoyed woodworking, music and singing. He avidly read and studied the Finnish language. His writing hobby resulted in the publication of four books for children.

Above all, Ken enjoyed spending time with Pirjo. A favorite mutual hobby was gardening. Together they spent a year in Finland teaching at Reisjärvi Christian College.

Ken and Pirjo were married for nearly fifty years. Ken spent much of his retirement devoted to the care of Pirjo, who had Parkinson’s disease. He researched treatment methods and sought a cure. God called Pirjo to heaven’s home in 2016.

Ken is survived by 11 children: Leila (Geoffrey) Godfrey, Lisa (Michael) Kuopus, Sara, Jana (Chad) Mattila, Rita (Harley) Lang, Eric (Niina), Peter (Suzanne), Tina (Carl) Hoikka, Michael (Emily), Paula (David) Vilkama, Hannah (Brian) Jurmu; sister Mary Ann (Ronald) Meredith; sister-in-law Evelyn Hill; 55 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and dear friends.

Ken is preceded in death by his wife Pirjo and son John (“Jussi”); his parents Ernest and Fanny and his brother Carl.


There will be a visitation on Friday, February 10, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. at the Monticello Laestadian Lutheran Church, followed by a funeral service at the same location at 12:00 p.m.

9 Guestbook Entries

  1. Cheryl Rintamaki

    My sympathy goes to the hill families.

  2. Roger & Helen Strand

    Loving thoughts and prayers to all the families. God’s Peace

  3. Mia and Al Gutierrez family

    Our deepest sympathy to the Hill family on the loss of their dear father.

  4. Denise

    This man did so many wonderful things in his life, what an honor to call him “Dad”. I am so sorry for your loss.

  5. Tony Grudnoski

    Ken was always an honorable man. From the times in high school in the mid 50’s when I watched him play fantastic basketball for the Milltowners to years later when I was privileged to teach with him at Marquette Branch Prison. My deepest condolences to his children, grands and great grands…

  6. Anne and Jukka Niemi

    Our sympathies to the Hill families. Remembering all of the family during this time. You are all in our thoughts. ❤️ Many loving greetings.

  7. Jake and Catherine Hotari and family

    Sending our love and deepest condolences to all of you. Ken has reached his heavenly home…May God give strength and comfort to all of you during this time.

  8. Eeva-Maija and Markus Hallapuro, Maire Salmela, Liisa & Martti Särkijärvi

    Loving thoughts and prayers to the Hill families. It has been an honor to know Ken and stay in contact with him all these years. He was highly focused and he had a special gift for making people around him feel valued. Ken was always so grateful and proud of his children and, for a very good reason. He left a lasting legacy to you all and we are sure that he knew how deeply he was loved by you. You all are in our thoughts.

  9. Robert Napel

    I just learned of Ken’s passing as we live in Florida and it takes awhile for the Mining Journal to reach us. I worked with Ken for several years at Marquette Prison where I later became Warden. Ken and I had a great connection as I also grew up in the western UP. He was a man of humility and had great stories of growing up in Marenisco. Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of Ken. He was one of the most solid men I had the privilege of knowing.


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