Finnish Soldier

Antti Juvonen (Spokesman-Review)The obituary for Antti Juvonen published in the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, offers lessons in the contemporary history and customs of Finland.

Juvonen, who died four weeks shy of his 93rd birthday, was born in Finland during the Finnish Civil War.

He served in the Finnish army during the 105-day Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union.

He was a true Finnish Hero and was awarded the Medal of Freedom #1 and #2. Finnish “sisu” (intestinal fortitude) sustained him in the harshest of environments during one of the coldest winters on record, hunkered down in dirt and snow hideaways with very little to eat or keep them warm. Although outnumbered, the Finns won battle after battle, but sadly eventually lost a portion of their country to Russia.

His obituary goes on to say that Juvonen’s family farm was located on the land seized by the Soviet Union. It details his journey from Finland to Canada to California and the state of Washington, and the various kinds of work he found along the way.

At one time he was a “‘Finnish’ finish carpenter.”

Wherever Grandpa lived he built an authentic wood-burning Finnish sauna in his home and Saturday night saunas were a tradition in our family as we grew up.




This post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.