Leo Wesanen

Posted: Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Longtime Alaska resident Leo Wesanen died at the homestead in Nikiski, Friday, June 23, 2000, surrounded by his family. He died during his third battle with cancer. He was 74.

Memorial services will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Nikiski Senior Center. A wake will follow the memorial services at Bishop Creek Bar.

The son of Finnish immigrants, Leo was born, at home, in Grayling, Mich., on Feb. 5, 1926. He was the sixth of seven children.

Mr. Wesanen was an Alaska pioneer. In 1959, he traveled the Alaska Highway to Alaska with his sister Mim Tauriainen and her family. After building a road into the Nikiski wilderness, he homesteaded on Bishop Creek, adjacent to his sister's homestead. Though his true and most loved home was Alaska, he enjoyed travel and spent time in Mexico and Hawaii and visited his parents' homeland in Finland.

He spent two years serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, he also served with the Merchant Marines and worked in the maritime industries in Nikiski. He was also a dairy farmer, plumber and longshoreman.

Mr. Wesanen was a generous and dear friend to many and will be remembered for his patience, quiet demeanor and his shy, engaging smile, his family said.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge, Eagles Lodge, Moose Lodge and the American Legion.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Kalle and Aino Wesanen; sister, Miriam; brother, Carl; brother-in-law, Art Tauriainen; and longtime love Iris Duncan.

Mr. Wesanen is survived by sister, Fran Tauriainen, of Nikiski, and her children, Robert, Raymond, Richard, Shirley and Sally; sister, Mim Tauriainen, of Nikiski, and her children, Mike, Carol, Carl, Glenn and Steve; brother, Onni of Kanehoe, Hawaii, and his children, Linda and Stacey; brother, Richard of Vanderbilt, Mich., and his children, Dick, Don and Dixie; nieces and nephews Carl Wesanen and Alan, Roy, Craig, Paul and Denise Nielsen; the late Iris Duncan's children, Cindy, Sally and Buster; and many great-nieces, great-nephews and friends.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Nikiski Senior Center, P.O. Box 6973, Nikiski, AK 99635.

Arrangements were by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.

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