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Reino Wilburt Paananen


Reino Wilburt Paananen, age 101, a long time Menahga, Minnesota area resident, formerly of Mille Lacs Lake, peacefully passed from this life to eternal life in the early morning hours of Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at the Rosehaven Assisted Living Home in Menahga with his loved ones at his side.

Reino was born to Julius and Selma (Salinen) Paananen on March 24, 1917 on his parent’s farm near Menahga. He attended the District # 246 Country School near his home. Growing up during the depression, work was hard to find and as a young man, Reino worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps for several years. When he was old enough, he joined the United States Army. As fate would have it, soon after completing his basic training, Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese and Reino was immediately sent to Hawaii. He served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II for 4½ year without being able to come home to see his family. After receiving his honorable discharge, he returned to Minnesota and gained employment in Minneapolis where he met Lillian Bjerke. The young couple fell in love and were married on November 9, 1946. Reino worked as a jeweler for the Beloved Rings Jewelry Company in Minneapolis. Later he and Lillian purchased a Dairy Queen business in Spring Lake Park which they operated until they retired in 1967. They then moved to their lake home on Mille Lacs Lake where Reino loved fishing for walleye on one of Minnesota’s premier walleye lakes. Throughout their marriage, Reino and Lillian enjoyed many travel adventures. They took trips to Finland, Norway, Hawaii, the Caribbean and throughout the United States and Canada. In addition they enjoyed spending 35 winters in the warm sunshine of Phoenix, Arizona. Reino loved to golf and work on crossword puzzles. He was a loyal and optimistic fan of the Minnesota Vikings and Twins. His heart was deeply saddened with the death of his beloved Lillian in September of 2017.

He will be lovingly remembered by his two sisters: Linda Aho and Hazel (Art) Skoog, both of Menahga; as well as many dearly loved nieces and nephews. In addition to being preceded in death by his wife and soulmate, Lillian, Reino was also preceded by four brothers: Ernest, Alvin, Elmer and Melvin and one sister, Esther Hendrickson.

Funeral services were held December 10, 2018 at the Runeberg Apostolic Lutheran Church west of Menahga with Pastor Dan Anderson officiating.

The organist was Tina Hendrickson. Casket bearers were his nephews: Tom Niska, Armas Aho, Julius Aho, Reino Hendrickson, Jim Paananen and Carroll Paananen. Military honors were conducted by the Guy L. McDermeit VFW Post #6206 of Menahga. Interment was made next to his wife, Lillian in the Hillview Cemetery west of Menahga.

The Cardini-Pearson Funeral Home serving Menahga and Sebeka was entrusted with the arrangements. To view the video tribute or to leave online condolences please visit

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