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Thelma Saarinen

Dec. 26, 1922-May 9, 2010

Thelma Maria Saarinen, 87, of Ponsford, passed away on Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids.

Thelma was born three minutes after midnight on Dec. 26, 1922 to Ole William and Lempi Maria (Longfors) Pihlaja in Shell Lake Township.

She attended the Shell Lake Country School and in 1968, she received her GED. On Oct. 11, 1941, Thelma married Carlo A. Saarinen in Detroit Lakes. The couple lived in Butte, Mont., for two years before returning to the Snellman area.

In 1948, they moved to the Ponsford Prairie, where they engaged in dairy and general farming for the next 20 years. Thelma worked variously at Ringers, Arctic Cat and Anglers in Park Rapids, Doc's Truck Stop in Osage and Four Corners in Detroit Lakes.

For many years she was employed by the Department of Natural Resources as a firewatcher, manning the Smokey Hills Tower. She worked seasonally planting trees and at the RDO potato warehouse in Osage.

Thelma served as treasurer of the Pine Point Township board for 30 years. She was a lifelong member of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Snellman and was baptized as an infant and confirmed into her faith on June 19, 1938.

Thelma was a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary of Wolf Lake. She led an active life, liked to travel and loved to dance the waltz, polka, schottische and square dance.

Thelma is survived by one son, LeRoy (Betty) Saarinen of Ponsford; two sisters, Shirley Clements of Osage and Nora (Delbert) Saarinen of Detroit Lakes; a brother, Roland (Darlene) Pihlaja of Osage; two granddaughters; six great grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and friends.

Thelma was preceded in death by her husband, Carlo (Dec. 26, 1970); her parents; one brother, Harold Pihlaja; and three sisters, Verna Kangas, Mildred Tretbar and Evelyn Sullinger.

Visitation will be 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 12 at the Jones-Pearson Funeral Home in Park Rapids, with a prayer service at 7:30 p.m.

Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Thursday, May 13 at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Snellman, with Pastor Eddie Hosch officiating.

Interment will be in Snellman Cemetery.

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