Richard “Dick” Heikkinen, 90, of Esko, was peacefully released into God’s loving arms on Friday, October 27, 2023. Dick was born December 7, 1932, to Walter and Ellen (Lindfors) Heikkinen. He spent much of his early childhood in Esko until his family moved to Duluth where he attended Central High School. Dick often spent his summers with his grandparents on their family farm in Finland, Minnesota, a place he loved dearly.
Dick enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in January 1952 and was stationed at Lackland Air Base in San Antonio, Texas. During his service he was also stationed in Cape Charles, Virginia, spent one year in Korea and two years at Hamilton Field in Novato, California. Dick was very proud of his military service and stayed in touch with the many friends he made along the way.
In July of 1952 Dick married the love of his life, Ruby Arntson of Cloquet and they were deeply devoted to each other for 71 years. They settled in Esko while raising a family of four.
After his military service Dick was employed at Northwest Paper in Cloquet for seven years. He went on to work for Esko Public Schools as a custodian and bus driver for 31 years. Dick took great pride and joy in the work he did and touched many lives during that time. He was kind, a gentle man, and a true champion of the underdog.
Dick was a confirmed member of the Apostolic Lutheran Church in Esko and a member of the Esko Senior Citizens. He was an avid fast pitch softball player in his younger years, enjoyed music, watching old movies, polishing cars, and faithfully attending his children and grandchildren’s events. Dick loved animals, taking in and caring for many strays throughout his life.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents; infant son Jamie; infant grandchildren, Courtney and Connor. He is survived by his wife, Ruby; children, Cindy (Terry) Purcell, Scott (Tammy), Lori, Dan (Beth); sister, Betty Christensen; brother, Tom (Norma) Heikkinen; grandchildren, Nick (Tina) Schilling, Josh Schilling, John (Emily) Heikkinen, Jordan Heikkinen, Erin Heikkinen, Kirby (Paige) Heikkinen and Kade Heikkinen; great grandchildren, Kate Weiland and Jemma Heikkinen.
Dick’s family will be forever grateful to Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital, Miller Dwan Observation Unit and Solvay Hospice house for the truly exceptional and compassionate care Dick received in the last months of his life.
It was Dick’s wish that a private family service be held.
Thank you Dad for working so hard to provide a stable and loving home for us. Thank you for your wit, sense of humor and endless pranks that gifted us so many smiles and laughs along life’s way. Thank you for nurturing our faith by your example and for your unconditional love when we stumbled and sometimes lost our way. Thank you for your spirit of generosity and instilling in us the importance of helping others. You were a man of great integrity and we could not be more proud or grateful to have you as our father. We love you Dad, save us a place in heaven close beside you.
Arrangements entrusted to Atkins-Northland Funeral Home, 801 14th Street, Cloquet, MN 55720. To sign the guest book and leave an online tribute, see www.atkinsnorthlandfuneralhome.com.