Ruth M. Holmquist, age 96, of Rapid River, died on Friday afternoon, January 3, 2020 at the Pinecrest Medical Care Facility in Powers, Michigan. Ruth, the daughter of Victor and Hilja (Tuomi) Niemi, was born on October 17, 1923 in North Delta County at the home where she lived her entire life. She attended elementary school in North Delta and then graduated as valedictorian of the Rapid River High School Class of 1940. Ruth and her friends, Angela Bartol and Molly Oberstar, moved to Trenary where they all worked at the bank. In June of 1946, she married Leonard Kaukola and together they had six children. On December 15, 1960, Leonard was killed in a farming accident at their home, and Ruth was widowed. As a family, they continued life with Christmas, school, and farm work. During the next year, Ruth was courted by "Trenary's most eligible bachelor," Eugene C. Holmquist, and they were married on December 30, 1961. They continued to farm crops and raise animals while owning and operating Holmquist Feed Mill. Their hard work gave the family a safe and loving home. Ruth and Gene celebrated over fifty-six years of marriage until his death on November 26, 2018.
Ruth was active in the Trenary community where she was a member of the Trenary Lioness Club and the Alger County Home Extension. For many years she bowled with the Trenary Home Bakery team and was a member of the Birthday Card Club. Ruth managed administrative duties for Holmquist Feed Mill, and she enjoyed playing the piano and Pinochle. She was a great cook, excellent baker and was lovingly known as "Gramma Pancakes" to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her door was always open, the coffee was always on, and the bread drawer was filled with homemade cookies. She loved having family and friends around and especially enjoyed the Saturday night sauna parties and swimming in her pool. During hunting season, she hosted guests in her home as they hunted on the farm. Over the years, many dear friends were made over meals and card games. She enjoyed travelling and took trips to Finland, Hawaii, and Alaska. Ruth was a great supporter of her grandchildren playing high school and college sports. She was especially passionate about basketball. While Ruth had a wonderful life, she did face adversity when her youngest son, Allen, was killed in an automobile accident in 1979. As the years passed, she always focused on her family, supporting and loving them throughout the years.
She is survived by five children - Beverly Plimpton of Cornell, MI, Gretchen (Darryl) Fossen of Hermansville, MI, Robert (Laurie) Kaukola of Winthrop, MN, Debbie (Les) Francisco of Fort Worth, TX, and Sharon (Steve) Boyer of Trenary; grandchildren - Kevin (Danielle) LeBoeuf, Robert (Heatherlynn) Plimpton, Cory (Janel) Fossen, Rebecca (Dave) Subert, Krystie (Ryan) Dovenmuehler, Jake (Brooke) Kaukola, Jamie (Trip) Littleton, Stacey (Colin) Pomeroy, Sara (Matt) Rohde, Shannon (Andy) Luehmann, and Stephanie (Mike) Lovell; twenty-four great-grandchildren; and numerous extended family on the Niemi, Kaukola, and Holmquist sides. Ruth was preceded in death by her parents Victor and Hilja, her husbands Leonard and Eugene, her son Allen, two infant children, and son-in-law Robert Plimpton.
Services will be held on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at the Calvary Lutheran Church (10439 Wisconsin Avenue) in Rapid River, Michigan where Ruth was a member. Visiting time with family and friends will be from 2:00 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. Pastor Stephen Gauger will conduct Ruth's memorial service at the church at 3:30 p.m. There will be a luncheon to follow in the parish hall. Interment will be at a later date at the Mathias Township Cemetery in Trenary.
Memorials in Ruth's name may be made to the Trenary Lions Club (P.O. Box 181 Trenary, MI 49891), Mathias Township Fire Department and First Responders (P.O. Box 132, Trenary, MI 49891) or Calvary Lutheran Church (P.O. Box 100, Rapid River, MI 49878.)
To plant a tree in memory of Ruth M. (Niemi Kaukola) Holmquist, please visit our tribute store.
Trenary Lions Club
P.O. Box 181, Trenary MI 49891
Mathias Township Fire Department & First Responders
P.O. Box 132, Trenary MI 49891
Calvary Lutheran Church
P.O. Box 100, Rapid River MI 49878