Our Mom Sylvia “Irene” Harvala, age 89, of Menahga MN (formerly of Osage and Park Rapids) passed away very quietly and peacefully on Thursday, May 25, 2023 at Green Pine Acres Nursing Home. Alzheimer’s very slowly took her away from all of us.
Irene was born on January 24, 1934, to William and Saima (Typpo) Kuismi, the youngest of eight children. Her first language was Finnish, but her older siblings made sure she learned English before she went to country school in Runeberg Township with family, friends and neighbors. After 8th grade, she attended Menahga High School and graduated in 1952. Mom studied business/secretarial in high school. After graduation, she went to work in Park Rapids as a secretary at State Bank while living with her future sister-in-law Jean Harvala. Mom met and fell in love with Floyd Harvala, and they were married in 1954 – spending 68 years together. The young couple moved to Chicago so Floyd could finish his Electronics schooling while she worked at Chicago Printed String. They then moved to the Park Rapids area where she became a “stay-at-home” Mom raising their three children while doing the bookkeeping for Floyd’s business Harvala Radio & TV. In 1968 they opened an actual store-front for their business in Park Rapids – first on Main Street then on Hwy 34 East – and the business evolved into Harvala Sales & Service selling both electronics & appliances where she became a “working” Mom. Through their business they were able to go on several trips including the World’s Fair in New York and their first trip to Hawaii. Irene hated Minnesota’s cold winters and found Hawaii was the perfect place to go – making over 30 trips. Another favorite trip was going to Finland (over 10 times) visiting family and friends – even a Typpo family reunion. In 1989 Mom opened her own business “Irene’s Favorite Things” selling Finnish and other Scandinavian items. They took this business on the road to FinnFests around the US and other Festivals – meeting new people along the way. She even had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, in Lake Worth, FL. Irene fully retired in 2008 at the age of 74. Our Mom and Dad were an amazing team!
Irene loved writing and collecting stamps! She would document their adventures in journals, wrote beautiful letters to family and friends and even wrote poetry. She also enjoyed researching and writing down family history. Photos were so important to her and she loved putting them into albums with each and every photo labeled. Mom spoke, read and translated Finnish her entire life until Alzheimer’s took all of that away from her.
Irene is survived by her husband Floyd, daughter Renee (Burt) Hill, son Jon (MaryAnn) Harvala, and daughter-in-law Tina Harvala. Seven grandchildren: Nicholas Hill (Rachael Pietila), Kathryn (Odell) Branson, Karen (Phil) Skaro, Amanda Harvala (Trevor Hendrickson), Garrett Harvala (Cara Paulson), Daniel Harvala and Dylan Harvala. Twelve great-grandchildren: Sylvia Hill, Aidan Pietila, Mataya Branson, Marcus Branson, Milauni Branson, Raylan Skaro, Bobbi Ann Skaro, Tyson Stopher, Serena Hendrickson, Ariella Hendrickson, Zaylynn Harvala and Zorah Harvala. Plus numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her son Randy Harvala in 2017, her parents, plus her siblings and their spouses: Sally (Onni) Niemela, Ellen (Reino) Santi, Leonard (Luella) Kuismi, Ingrid (Hugo) Koski, Lyyli (Elmer) Schwartz, Onni (Raija) Kuismi and Martha (Eldon) Ollanketo. Two grandchildren: Aaron and Matthew Harvala and two great-grandchildren: Zappa Floyd Harvala and Cayden Hendrickson.
Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Saturday, August 5, 2023 at Pickerel Lake Apostolic Lutheran Church and continue two hours prior to the service at the Church.
Memorial Services will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 6, 2023 at Pickerel Lake Apostolic Lutheran Church. Inurnment will be at the Pickerel Lake Cemetery.
Arrangements are entrusted to Wevley Funeral Home of Sekeka. Online condolences may be left at www.wevleyfuneralhome.com.7-26c