In Loving Memory of
Anita Ann Hokkanen Middleton

Anita Middleton, known and loved by many FACA members, died at age 64 after battling acute myelogenous
leukemia for over a year. Her memorial service, which was held March 13 at the Church of
the Open Door in Maple Grove, was opened with a welcome and prayer by Anita’s cousin, the Rev. Dale
Kemppainen. Hal Seppälä gave a warm eulogy and Kay Seppälä played a very nice flute solo of Be Still
My Soul. Rev. Virgil Rasmussen presided and gave the message. The Finn Hall band provided music
after the service.

Anita was born on February 24, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. Her parents, Lawrence and Sylvia,
had only recently returned in the spring of 1941 from a seven year sojourn in Stalin’s Russia. It was a very
difficult time for them—one from which they narrowly escaped. As she was growing up she did not
know about their journey, but after she learned the whole story she helped them write a book about their
lives. Karelia: A Finnish-American Couple in Stalin’s Russia was published by North Star Press of
St. Cloud in 1991.

Anita graduated from Cass Tech, a “magnet” high school in downtown Detroit that specialized in
Arts & Sciences. In 1960, she married Len Middleton, the son of life-long family friends who
were also part of the Finnish-American community. Her college education was completed over seven
years, during which she attended Eastern Michigan State University in Ypsilanti, Valparaiso University in
Indiana, and Wayne State University in Detroit. Ultimately, she obtained her degree in K-12 Education
and Library Science.

Len’s engineering career took them across the United States. It was Len’s goal to move to
Minnesota, and in 1970 the family moved to the Iron Range where they made numerous life-long friends.
Their first two children, Laurie and Paul, were born in New Jersey; Kara, in Pennsylvania. They later
moved to Esko, then to the Twin Cities where all the children graduated from High School, and then back
up north to Duluth for five years. In Duluth, Anita attended UMD along with her daughter Kara, and
obtained a master’s degree in English.

Anita enjoyed writing and engaged in some free-lance writing as well as penning a number of
letters to the editor. She was also an avid reader.  She and Len performed in the Finnish folk dancegroup
Kisarit for many years. Her cultural heritage was very important to her. She also learned to play
the kantele.

Though her life cannot easily be summed up, her faith was a deep and growing part of her. It
was something that helped get her through a diagnosis of leukemia and the difficult days of hospitalization
and treatment that followed. Those who visited Anita during this time know that she often encouraged
them, and that, though her life was being cut short, this fact did not diminish her trust in a loving
and faithful God.

Anita Middleton passed away peacefully on March 8, 2006 in her Maple Grove home. She was
preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence Hokkanen, who died on June 8, 2002, at the age of
93, and Sylvia Hokkanen, who died on January 4, 2003, nine days short of her 90th birthday. Anita is
survived by her husband, Len, daughters, Laurie and Kara, son Paul, and daughter-in-law Nyla, and their
four children, Peter, Henry, Joshua, and Abigail.