Ralph Wayne Waisanen passed away peacefully at the age of 89 on Saturday, May 23, 2020 at Grand Village in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Ralph rejoins his wife Elaine, the love of his life, who passed away at their long-time home in Coleraine on January 9, 2017. He was also preceded in death by his mother, Hattie Finnila, and stepfather, Toivo Finnila, and many of his favorite fishing buddies as well as his father, Waino Waisanen.
Ralph was born in Trout Lake Township and spent his early years traveling back and forth to Michigan to visit relatives. He was proud to serve his country in the Air Force and was stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War.
Military service and growing up in Trout Lake were at the heart of many of his stories. He was a one of a kind storyteller who knew how to make a room laugh. His grandchildren always knew something good was coming when he would fold his hands on his lap, purse his lips and slightly smirk.
Ralph was born into a Finnish speaking family and grew up being able to communicate in his family's native language. He was blessed with a sharp mind and an even sharper wit. He taught in various schools and junior colleges across northern Minnesota, until taking his last position as a high school English teacher at his alma mater, Greenway High School.
He retired from teaching in 1988 and was able to spend many happy years pursuing his interests in photography, woodworking, gardening, playing cribbage, hunting and, best of all, trout fishing. If he wasn't at home, you knew you would find him on a lake somewhere fishing, no matter the season.
Ralph will be lovingly remembered by his family. He is survived by his son, Mark (Jayne) Waisanen, Detroit Lakes, MN; daughters, Mary Waisanen, Cohasset, MN; Melanie Cohen, Seattle, WA; and Debra (Michael) Solem, Cohasset, MN. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, Abby (James) Johnson; Katy (Jake) Reierson; Miranda (Kyle) Roethle; Chelsea Solem; David Cohen and four great-grandchildren, Logan and Hudson Johnson and Caleb and Camden Reierson. He is also survived by his half-brother, James Finnila, and numerous nieces/nephews, cousins and in-laws.
The family would like to extend their appreciation for the loving care given to Ralph by all of his caregivers, including Debbie Barton, Becky Anderson and all of the caregivers from 4U Home Health Care who cared for Ralph while he was still in his home, and the staff at Grand Village and Essentia Health-St. Mary's Itasca Hospice, especially during these last months with visitor restrictions in place due to the coronavirus.
A private family service will be held at an unspecified time and Ralph will be buried, along with his wife, Elaine, at the Trout Lake Cemetery.
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