Donald E. Hakanen, age 91, of Chatham, died Monday evening, January 23, 2023 at Medilodge in Munising. Don was born on May 15, 1931 in Slapneck, Michigan to Erick and Lillian (Peterson) Hakanen. He graduated from Eben High School in 1949. Don enlisted into the U.S. Air Force in 1951. He spent time in Japan and served stateside. Don was honorably discharge in 1955. He always said his Air Force days were one of his best ever four years, and he was proud to serve. Don married Betty Knaus of Traunik in June of 1957. They would have been married sixty-six years on June 8th of this year.
Don is survived by his wife Betty; four sons – Mike (Tina), Gary, Larry (Dolly), and Jeff; grandchildren – Ericka, Cody, Diane, Nikki, Max, Maranda, and Sydney; nieces and nephews; and four grand dogs. Preceding him in death were his parents, sister Alice (Art) Haapala, brothers Edwin (Alice) and Wally Hakanen.
He worked for MSU in dairy and poultry for ten years. Don retired from the Alger County Road Commission in 1992 after twenty-seven years. He loved being in the woods, cutting or splitting wood or just enjoying the peacefulness of the woods. He was still doing what he loved at the age of 89. Don was still into crafts and woodworking until four years ago when his eyesight failed. He earned many blue ribbons and Best of Show at the Alger County Fair. Don instilled great work ethic to his sons and left them all with carpentry skills and many other traits.
Don was a “fix it guy” and if he couldn’t fix it, he found an alternative way. He was a Detroit Tigers and Green Bay Packers fan. Don especially enjoyed visits from his grandchildren and the Friday night “happy hour” with the family. At a very young age as soon as he could handle a fishing pole, he loved to fish brook trout. He did so until he lost his eyesight and could no longer drive to his “favorite spots.”
Don’s family would like to thank the staff at the Munising Memorial Hospital and of Medilodge.
A service celebrating Don's life will be held at his home (E4207 M-94 in Chatham) on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. with Rev. Virginia Mannisto officiating. A gathering time with family and friends will follow the service until 5:00 p.m.