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Gordon J. Kuivanen 1930-2014

June 5, 2014
Emmetsburg News

L'ANSE, MI -- Gordon John Kuivanen, beloved Husband, Father and Grandfather, age 84 of Baraga, MI, passed away May 29, 2014 in Chino Hills, CA.

A second-generation Finnish-American, Gordon was born in Baraga, MI to John and Senia Kuivanen. He was the first in his family to attend college, after being raised in a small town.

Gordon married Betty Saaranen in 1951. Graduating from Michigan Tech University in Houghton, MI in 1952, his offer of employment at General Motors Research Laboratories in Detroit was interrupted by the Korean War, when he applied for and received a commission as an Air Electronics Officer.

When the war ended in 1953, he was discharged to reserve status and was accepted to the Masters Degree program at Wayne State University. With the assistance of a GM Research Fellowship, he completed his Master of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Gordon returned to GM Research and progressed to Senior Research Engineer. In 1961, Gordon accepted a position at Minneapolis Moline in Minneapolis, Minnesota. There, he progressed to Chief Engineer of Minneapolis Moline's Industrial Products, and later of the White Motor Corporation Industrial Division.

In 1970, the family moved to Denver, CO where Gordon was Vice President/ General Manager and part-owner of Arrow Manufacturing. Company acquisi- tions brought Gordon to Merrill, IA in the mid-1970's where he assumed management of Digz-All Corporation. This led to his final opportunity, co-ownership of Durnell Engineering in Emmetsburg.

After retiring from full-time work, Gordon began working as a consultant for the Iowa State Small Business Development Centers, and later as a consultant for the Veterans Administration working with disabled veterans throughout the state. He was awarded the State of Iowa and National U.S. Small Business Administration Veteran Small Business Advocate of the Year Award in 1996.

As much of his work was throughout Iowa and surrounding states, Gordon made use of his private pilot's license traveling to many business locations. He originally received his license to fly at the grass-field Baraga airport in 1946 while still in High School, and accumulated 3,000 of flying time in the five airplanes he owned.

Moving back to Baraga, Gordon and Betty bought a lakefront home just outside of town, where he spent much of his time on projects around the house, always in the shop or the garage. During this time he volunteered to help manage the business affairs of the Henry Ford / Alberta Village Museum outside of L'Anse, MI. With children in California, Colorado and Texas, Gordon and Betty often made winter trips to visit family, although it was hard to get them away from the lakeshore. Recent years have been spent in assisted living in Chino Hills, CA near their children.

Gordon is survived by Betty, his wife of 62 years; children and spouses David and Karim, Beth and Jon, John and Audra, and Amy and Mike; and grandchildren Jeremy, Katie and her new husband Tom, Daniel, Timothy, Lilly, Sophia and Alexa.

His funeral services will be held on Friday, June 6, at 11 a.m. at Mission United Lutheran Church in Pelkie, MI. Visitation will be for an hour prior to the service at the church. Rev. John Autio will officiate.

Burial will be the Pelkie Cemetery. Baraga County Area Veterans will conduct military graveside services under the direction of the American Legion Post 444. A luncheon and fellowship will follow in the church hall. The Jacobson Funeral Home of L'Anse is assisting the family.

Friends may sign Gordon's guest book or send condolences at



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