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Willard Pieila 1955 – 2023

Willard Eugene Pietila, age 68, of Park Rapids, MN, formerly of Menahga, passed away tragically on December 22, 2023. Willard was born on May 5, 1955 to Edwin and Thelma (Makinen) Pietila at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Park Rapids, MN. He was raised on the family farm near Wolf Lake, MN, helping with chores in his early years. He attended school in Wolf Lake until the 9th grade. He then attended Menahga High School and graduated with his class of 1973.
After completing school, Willard moved up to the Iron Range and worked at the Minntac iron mine. He came back to the Menahga area in 1976 to start his long career in the logging industry falling trees and driving skidder. He worked for Rennebergs, Roger Liimatta, Randy Olson, and finished his profession working for Richard Carlson in the woods and sawmill.
In his early years Willard enjoyed riding his motorcycles, driving his snowmobiles, and cruising around in his cars, especially his GTO. He was very mechanically inclined and performed all maintenance/repairs necessary to keep everything running in tip-top condition. Willard was exceptionally talented in fixing chainsaws. Anyone could bring him a chainsaw and he would bring it back to life running like it was new again. He loved hunting deer and grouse, fishing, and just walking in the woods. He could identify all tree species and always had a good story about his logging days working on a particular job associated with the different species.
Willard was mostly a quiet man, keeping to himself and avoiding all hoopla. He was kind and thoughtful and would give you the shirt off his back even though he didn’t have much. Although at times he could be as stubborn and ornery as the Finn he was, at the end of the day everything was always good. He was always willing to lend a helping hand whenever or wherever it was needed. He lived day by day without worries and held no anger in his heart.
Willard was preceded in death by his parents Edwin and Thelma, brother Edwin Jr., and sister Beverly.
Willard is survived by his siblings: Evelyn (Fred) Komppa of Hibbing, MN, Rodney (Robin) of St. Cloud, MN, and Irene Neal of Blaine, MN. He is also survived by numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and his favorite cousin Rachael.
He will be sadly missed by his family, and Stewart and JoJo Ollila, Jamie, Eli and his godson Seth, Darrell and Theresa Grangruth, and a host of friends much too large to mention by name.
A gathering for Willard will be held on Saturday, February 24, 2024,1 p.m., at the Menahga VFW. There will also be a Celebration of Life on June 8, 2024 at the Menahga Memorial Park at 1 p.m. All are welcome to attend to share stories and memories of their own. A light lunch will be served.
Arrangements were entrusted Wevley Funeral Home of Sebeka. Online condolences may be left at

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