Obit: Maki, Laura E. (1919 - 2005)

Contact: History Buffs

Surnames: Maki, Waaranmaa, Koski, Berndt, Fern, Booth, Pikus, Braun, Winkler, Kessel, Jurgen, Torgerson

The Capitol Times (Madison, Dane County, Wis.) Apr. 2005

Maki, Laura E. (15 Jan. 1919 - 21 Apr. 2005)

Elaine Maki, age 86, of Madison, died peacefully on Thursday, April 21, 2005, in Madison, after a prolonged illness with her loving family at her side. Born on Jan. 15, 1919, in Wakefield, Mich., of Finnish immigrants, Gust and Eliina (Waaranmaa) Koski, she was raised on a subsistence 40-acre farm in Withee, Wis., at the height of the depression and witnessed the painful deaths of two infant sisters with diphtheria. For the rest of her life, Laura was very proud of her Finnish heritage, spoke and wrote the language with colloquial fluency and at difficult times said we must always have sisu (unyielding fortitude). After graduating from high school in a class of 17 in 1937, she attended Neilsville Teaching Normal for one year, following which she accepted her first fulltime job, teaching all eight grades in a one-room country school in Unity, Wis., for $80 a month - $82 if she hauled in water from the well and started the wood fire herself each morning.

On Nov. 30, 1939, she married George Oliver Maki, her high school sweetheart and a student at River Falls State Teachers College. Laura and George were deeply committed to public education, teaching in Wisconsin communities for 40 years, the last 18 in Madison where Laura taught at Frank Allis Elementary School and George was the first principal at the Marquette Middle School. An unusually dedicated elementary teacher, Laura obtained her baccalaureate degree from UW-Stevens Point in 1960 at age 41, following many years of night school and summer sessions. She was most proud that throughout her career she had taught 1,051 Wisconsin children and most of them to read-including her son. Many decades later, adults would approach her in restaurants or on the streets of Madison to ask if she remembered them from their first year of school with her - and invariably she did, recalling not only their names, but details about them as well. Laura and George retired in 1980 and had a wonderful 4 1/2 years together at their beloved cottage, "Finlandia" on Lake Wisconsin until George died unexpectedly in 1985. Although she missed George deeply for the rest of her years, Laura went on to build a very active and fulfilling life with friends and family in Madison and greatly enjoyed many trips on her own to visit family in the west, and with her grown children and their families, travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, England and Scotland, France, Scandinavia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and, most meaningful to her, Finland on three occasions where she reestablished ties with her parents' Finnish families. Laura and George were the first members of their first-generation Finnish-American families to complete high school and obtain a college education and raised a family of healthcare providers. From their two children and their spouses and five grandchildren came four physicians, three nurses and a physical therapist.

Laura is survived by her children, Dr. Dennis (Gail) Maki of Madison, and Nancy (Dr. Theodore) Berndt of Reno, Nev.; five grandchildren, Kimberly Maki (Anthony Fern) of Albuquerque, N.M., Sarah Maki (Alexander Pikus) of Coolangatta, Australia, Dr. Daniel Maki (Helen Braun) of Scottsdale, Ariz., Amy Berndt (Douglas Booth), of Reno, Nev., and Dr. David Berndt of Denver, Colo.; two greatly cherished great-grandchildren, Lucy Maki-Fern of Albuquerque, N.M., and Noah Pikus of Coolangatta, Australia, to whom she was Aiti (grandmother); a sister, Viola Winkler of Brillion; a sister-in-law, Betty (Robert) Kessel of San Antonio, Texas; and numerous beloved nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; infant sisters, Helen and Elsie Koski; husband, George; two sisters-in-law, Vera (Ed) Maki and Edna (Jurgen) Torgerson; and three brothers-in-law, Merlin (Viola) Winkler, William (Ilene) Maki and Robert Maki.

Laura was a devout Christian and a member of Lutheran Memorial Church for nearly 40 years, and for the past two years, Midvale Community Lutheran Church. A family service of interment was held on April 23, 2005, at Roselawn Memorial Park in Monona. A memorial service to celebrate Laura's life will be held at MIDVALE COMMUNITY LUTHERAN CHURCH, 4329 Tokay Blvd., Madison, at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 28, 2005. We are deeply grateful to the physicians and staff at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics for their excellent care through the years and the staff of the Sebring Assisted Living Care Center of Madison for their extraordinarily compassionate care of Mom during the past nine months - especially to Pat, Bethany, Mark, LaTosh and Sandy.

Memorial donations may be sent to the George and Laura Maki Memorial Medical Student Scholarship Fund, UW Foundation, 1848 University Ave., Madison, WI 53726. Mom, you were a wonderful mother and grandmother and had a profound impact not only on all our lives but also the lives of countless students for more than half a century. We will miss you very much. There is no death, the stars go down, to shine upon a far off shore; And there, in heaven's jeweled crown, they shine - forever more.



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