Verna Lorraine (Heckman) Salmela, 92 of Pleasant Hill, Calif., formerly of Duluth, passed away on Saturday, February 15, 2020 in her home with her family by her side. She was born on October 13, 1927 in Detroit, Michigan, the first child of Nels and Aina (Hepokoski) Heckman. The family moved to Menahga, Minnesota for several years then on to Duluth where Verna graduated from Denfeld High School in 1945. She attended UMD and worked at Chet’s Cafe in Duluth and on June 20, 1947, she was united in marriage to Harry R. Salmela from Cedar Valley. After their first child Judy was born, Harry and Verna headed west and settled in San Pablo, California where several of their Minnesota friends also lived. In 1952, the family had grown to five and they moved into their home in Pleasant Hill, California where Verna lived for the remaining years of her life.
In addition to raising five children, Verna worked in the business office of her husband Harry’s construction company, Albay Construction. She made frequent trips back to Minnesota, loading the five kids in the back of the station wagon for the annual summer cross-country drive to visit family and friends.
When Verna’s travels and ability to care for herself became severely limited by her advancing Parkinson’s Disease, her son Tim provided loving care so she was able to stay in her family home.
Verna was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Harry in 1971; her brother, Fabian “Bud” Heckman; her sisters and their husbands, Jean and Eino Tuominen and Marjorie and Adolph Ollila; her son-in-law, Bryan Beauduy; and two great grandchildren, Emmersyn Traye and Reese Johnson.
She will be remembered and dearly missed by her three daughters, Judy (Frank) Heino of Negaunee, Michigan, Jean Beauduy of Hermantown, and Karen (Jim) Liubakka of Elk River; two sons, Tim of Pleasant Hill, California and Mark (Alexandra) Muravyova of Castro Valley, California; sister, Lela (Eugene) Tuominen; sisters-in-law, Joyce Heckman and Flora Hietala; eleven grandchildren, Stacey Heino, Kyle (Leah) Heino, Myra (Neil) Traye, Andrea Heino, Jen (Aaron) Johnson, Greta Liubakka, Seth (Abby) Liubakka, Grace (Dustin) Vanasse, Nena (Scott) Johnson, Derek (Camille) Beauduy, Shawn (Chena) Beauduy; thirteen great-grandchildren, Tyler and Sienna Traye, Bodhi Okahata, Kaija (Alec) Mattson, Kianna Johnson, Justin Liubakka, Sage and Isaac Vanasse, Griffin Johnson, Beatrice Beauduy, Luca, Ben and Celia Beauduy; and a host of brothers and sisters in faith.
Verna was a member of the Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church congregation in Martinez, California. Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 22, 2020 in the Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church, 6273 Hwy 2, Munger, MN. with visitation starting at 9:30 a.m. A luncheon will follow at the church and burial will be at the Cedar Valley Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to Atkins Northland Funeral Home, Cloquet. To sign the guest book and offer an online tribute, see www.atkinsnorthlandfuneralhome.com