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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - James Mattila

James S. Mattila, Sr.
August 4, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

SUO DISTRICT - James S. Mattila, Sr., 92, a resident of the Suo District, passed away Friday afternoon, July 30, 2010, at his home following a lengthy illness.

He was born June 1, 1918, in Toivola, a son of the late Sam J. and Laura K. (Johnson) Mattila. He attended the Heikkinen School in Toivola.

On August 14, 1937, he was united in marriage to the former Bertha Maki. Since that time, he had made his home in the Suo District. On September 24, 2006, Bertha preceded him in death.

Mr. Mattila was a veteran, having served with the U.S. Army during WWII.
James operated his family farm and then worked for various contractors in the area doing carpentry work. In 1955, he partnered with his brother, Yalmer, to start Mattila Contracting which he helped to operate until his retirement in 1973.

Mr. Mattila was a member of the Tapiola Apostolic Lutheran Church, the Chassell VFW Post 6507, Carpenters Union Local 1510, along with various organizations in the area.

Jim enjoyed spending time outdoors hunting, fishing and trapping.

Preceding him in death were his wife, Bertha; parents; son, Carl; sisters, Beatrice and Bertha; brothers, Wesley, Walfred, Yalmer and two infant brothers; and a son-in-law, John Keranen.

Surviving are his children, James, Jr. (Karen) Mattila, Shirley Keranen, Robert (Betty) Mattila, Barbara Mattila, Carol (Gary) Johnson, Virginia (Paul) Luoma, Violet (James) Medhurst, Vivian (John) Grischke, Ruth (Thomas) Machrain, Michael (Vicky) Mattila, Vicky (Kenneth) Kline, Laura (Sam) Christoff; brothers, Alvin (Lydia) Mattila, Gordon (Marjorie) Mattila, Earl (Melanie) Mattila, Sanfred (Pat) Mattila, Leo (Marian) Mattila; sisters, Laura (Hiram) Mosley, Carol (Robert) Deede; sister-in-law, Margaret Mattila; 43 grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren; numerous great-great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Funeral services for James will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 7, 2010, at the Tapiola Apostolic Lutheran Church with Rev. Kenneth Storm and Rodney Johnson to officiate. Burial will be in the Toivola Cemetery where Chassell VFW Post 6507 will hold military rites.

Friends may call on Friday, August 6, 2010, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hancock and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until time of services at the church.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family suggests that memorials be given to the Tapiola Apostolic Lutheran Church, the Children's Miracle Network, or the charity of one's choice.

To view James' obituary or to send condolences to the family, please visit

The Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hancock is assisting the family with the arrangements.

Mattila Stood For Much
August 21, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

To the editor:
A veteran died today - James S. Mattila, Sr., 92, July 30, 2010. When we look at the journey of our comrade, there are five priorities that stand out:
1. His loyalty to his God. He took the time to know his God and his pastors. He knew where his values were and professed his faith.

2. His loyalty to his country. He left his young family to serve in World War II in Italy as a ground soldier.

3. His young family, which he was anxious to get back to.

4. His work, in which he helped his brother start a company which gave work to many.

5. His community, which he supported as a good citizen.

"When a man's ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." - Proverbs 16: 7.

Jim came from a family of 15 who lost their mother when the last child was one year old in 1941, and yet, their father kept them together. Jim and eight brothers all served their country and came back. Jim and Bertha had 13 children of which 12 survived him. His father told him, 1. "To always be honest." 2. "Keep the Ten Commandments." 3. "Honor our Constitution, we did not have that in the old country."

Now he was not a perfect man, but a great man. There is a man.

Next Memorial Day, a flag will be placed on Jim's grave in Toivola along with the graves of some 6,000 other veterans in Houghton and Keweenaw counties to be remembered by some 4,000 veterans living here.

Rev. Elmer Liimatta,
State Chaplain, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Mattilas to lead Parade of Thanks
May 14, 2009

HOUGHTON - Though shortened by construction, the Parade of Thanks will go on this year.

The annual parade, which recognizes the efforts of military veterans and those currently serving in the military, starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Citgo station in Hancock.

Due to construction, it will now end in Hancock by the Scott Hotel, not the Miners State Bank in Houghton as originally planned.

The parade will be followed by the Freedom Rally at the Copper Country Mall, starting at 1 p.m. The event will include awards presented to the grand marshals, Patriot of the Year and Junior Patriot of the Year, as well as musical performances by Tom Katalin and a choir headed by Annette Butina.

This year's grand marshals are the nine Mattila brothers of Toivola - James, Yalmer, Wesley, Gordon, Walfred, Alvin, Sanfred, Earl and Leo - all of whom served in the Armed Forces.

James, the oldest, served as an Army infantryman during World War II, once being stationed on the former farm of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.

Yalmer served stateside during World War II as a military policeman. Wesley, an Air Force member, was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II.

Gordon served in the Navy after the conclusion of World War II, working in a naval hospital whose patients included troops imprisoned by the Japanese.

Walfred served in the Navy and was part of atomic bomb testing on the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Alvin was stationed stateside for two years as an Army policeman in the 50s.

Sanfred traveled to 32 countries in his four years in the Navy, including a patrol ship off the coast of Korea during the Korean War.

Earl served in the Army and was trained in artillery and radar operations.

Leo, the youngest, served in the Army in the early 1960s. Had the Cuban Missile Crisis not been resolved, his company would have gone to Cuba.

Four of the nine brothers will not be there: Walfred, Yalmer and Wesley have died, while Alvin is staying home to take care of his wife, who is sick.

But all will be honored Saturday, said parade organizer Dennis Korby. "We're going to have the living brothers in their uniforms," he said. "We're going to have the empty chairs for the brothers that are no longer with us."

Korby found out about the brothers' story after coming across an old Gazette article about their history. He called the brothers "Copper Country treasures."
"I'll speak with someone outside of this area," he said. "Invariably, they're always shocked by this. You may hear of two or three brothers, but not nine. All nine."

Patriot of the Year is Kenneth Toth. The local pastor, who served in the Korean War, is known for his work with veterans, Korby said. When a soldier returned home last year, Toth organized the placing of American flags all the way from the airport parking lot to his home, interspersed with signs telling him what had gone on at home since he left.

Deanna Hillstrom, a student at Jeffers High School in Painesdale, was named Junior Patriot of the Year. Korby hopes to get her to read a poem she has written about the Mattila brothers, which he called "very passionate and well-written."
Hillstrom has two brothers serving in war zones, including Andrew Hillstrom, who is recovering from severe wounds suffered in action.

"She had something tugging at her heart at a very personal level," Korby said. "She had two brothers in harm's way. Maybe that explains her commitment to this whole thing. I can think of no one - absolutely no one - at her age more deserving of this award."

Included in the parade will be the Calumet High School volleyball team, who will hit red, white and blue volleyballs back and forth behind a "Champions Honoring Champions" banner.

Placed on every block during the parade will be barrels decorated with red, white and blue. These are for donations of items such as crayons, coloring books, erasers and hard candy for children in Afghanistan. Korby said they were the idea of Katie Sullivan, who had talked to the wife of a local soldier serving there.
"The little kids are caught in the middle of all the fighting," Korby said. "They're terrified, and they're poor. They beg for pencils, crayons, coloring books, markers. These are treasures to these children."

Korby said a DVD of the parade will be sent to troops serving overseas, and has also been requested by the White House.

"We're the most patriotic area in the country, bar none, and I think people are starting to take a second look at that," Korby said. "We have a chance to show that in the parade and the rally."

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