Jerry B. Kinnunen, age 84, lifelong Munising resident, passed away on Saturday, October 10, 2020 at Medilodge in Munising following a long fight with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on June 12, 1936 to Oscar and Lempi (Paasto) Kinnunen. Jerry was active in sports growing up and graduated from Wm. G. Mather High School in 1954. He attended Ferris State College where he pole vaulted, Michigan State and Northern Michigan University. Jerry earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Education and began a 37 ½ year teaching career. He first taught at Shingleton where he served as principal and as the third and fourth grade teacher. Mr. Kinnunen moved to the Munising Public Schools and taught seventh and eighth grade. After ten years, Jerry went to work for a text book publisher but returned to Munising to teach history and government. Mr. Kinnunen also taught adult education, driver’s education, and he coached and refereed football and basketball. He was voted teacher of the year in the U.P. in 1981 and retired from his career in 1997. He had married Roberta Ann Putvin on October 5, 1963 and together they raised their three children. While the kids were growing up during summer vacation, they enjoyed camping in Grand Marais. Mr. and Mrs. Kinnunen were always available to chaperone when the school needed chaperones and they especially enjoyed the Winter Olympics. During retirement, they enjoyed travelling and spent winters in Texas and Alabama. Always active in the community, he worked for the Chamber of Commerce and they spent the holiday season delighting children as Santa and Mrs. Claus. He was a faithful member of Sacred Heart Church and was active with the Knights of Columbus where he also served as Grand Knight. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time with his grandchildren.
Jerry is survived by his wife of over fifty-seven years – Roberta; sons – Brian and David; daughter – Jill; eight grandchildren; sister Nancy Lindell of Cheney, WA; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Oscar and Lempi and siblings Helen, Ginger, Lillian, Eino, Raymond, Bill, Reino, and Bertha.
Visitation will be Thursday at the Bowerman Funeral Home from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated in the lower level of Sacred Heart Church at 12:00 noon on Friday, October 16, 2020. Masks will be required, and the funeral home staff will be assisting with social distancing required by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Jerry’s name are requested to be made to Sacred Heart Church Memorial Fund, Munising St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry, or the Alger Community Food Pantry.