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Shirley Koskiniemi

1936 – 2022

Shirley Jean (Sakkinen) Koskiniemi passed away on January 19, 2022, at the age of 85. She was born on September 27, 1936 at home in Runeberg Township in rural Menahga, MN, to parents, Eddie and Jennie Sakkinen. She grew up in this Finnish community and embraced her Finnish heritage throughout her life.

Shirley’s early years of school took place in a one room schoolhouse where her life-long love for learning began as well as her passion to become a teacher. Shirley graduated from Menahga High School as the Salutatorian in the class of 1954. She went on to receive her training at Bemidji State Teacher’s College, Bemidji, MN, and St. Mary College in Xavier, KS. Shirley was able to realize her dream of being an elementary school teacher by having her own classroom for 7 years as well as being a substitute teacher for 10 years.

On February 16, 1958, Shirley married Ernest Koskiniemi, and they made their home in Arlington, VA, where their two daughters, Cheryl and Connie, were born. They went on to live in Kentucky, California, and Kansas before returning closer to home in Minnesota. Shirley’s home was in Park Rapids from 1980 until she entered the Green Pine Acres Nursing Home in Menahga, MN, in October of 2015.

Shirley loved to visit family and friends, travel, and take photos to share her adventures. At home she enjoyed reading, creating hand work or sewing projects, watching TV dramas and game shows, and listening to music. Her outdoor hobbies included growing flowers and exploring nature’s beauty.

Growing in her personal relationship with Jesus Christ was important to Shirley. She was baptized in her home as an infant and confirmed in the Apostolic Lutheran Church. As an adult she professed personal faith in Christ, attended some denominational and non-denominational churches, and participated in women’s Bible studies.

Shirley is survived by daughters: Cheryl (Don) Main of Morris, and Connie (David) Strandquist of Park Rapids; grandchildren: Rachel (Zach) Anderson, Chanel Strandquist, Daniel (Sara) Strandquist, Ariel Strandquist, and Jacob Main; six great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents Jennie and Eddie Sakkinen, sister Elaine Sakkinen, and grandson Justin Main.

There will be a funeral on Monday, February 7 at Jones/Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids. Visitation will start at 1 p.m. with the service to follow at 2 p.m.

Arrangements are with Jones Pearson Funeral Home. Online condolences may be left at

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