She was born on February 17, 1925, in Tapiola, Mich., to Finnish immigrants, Juho and Adolfiina (Peltola) Wiitala.
Toini was the youngest of three children and was born in the sauna on the family farm, which was customary among Finnish settlers of that time. Although her father worked in the Champion Mine in Painesdale, the family also kept a small herd of dairy cows. Daily chores included milking and feeding the cows, and during the summers all members of the family helped out with the haymaking.
Toini attended the John A. Doelle School in Tapiola and graduated in 1943. In February 1944, she was accepted into nursing school at the Kahler Hospital in Rochester, Minn., from which she received her RN certificate in 1947. During the fall of that year she moved to Detroit, where she got a job with the Detroit Dept. of Public Health as a public health nurse. Later, she worked at Ford Hospital in Detroit.
On New Year’s Day in 1949, she married Tauno B. Kilpela, a South Range native who wanted to move back to the Copper Country. They did so in 1950 and soon after bought an old farm outside of Atlantic Mine, where they made their home.
Toini initially did some private duty nursing at the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hancock, but after the births of her two children, Karla in 1951, and Don in 1954, her nursing efforts were confined to the needs of her children and parents.
Toini was a member of the Range Apostolic Lutheran Church in South Range and regularly attended various bible studies over the years. She was a skilled hand weaver and a member of the Buellwood Weavers Guild. Her hobbies included bowling and reading. She read continually, everything from murder mysteries to history and politics. Toini was a people person and loved to talk and tell stories. She was also very active physically. For over thirty years, she and Tauno went for daily walks, bike rides or cross-country ski outings, depending on the season. Her home was a place where visitors were welcome, and her guests were always well fed. One of Toini’s greatest joys was to watch her five grandsons grow up. She was very proud of them.
|It was a sad day, but it was a glad day also. The strife is oer, the victory won...|