Range Funeral Homes


Harold William Hietala

05/20/1946 - 07/11/2020

Harold W Hietala passed away July 11 at Silver Bay Veterans Home. He was born to Arne and Ellen Hietala, raised in Pike and educated at Pike-Sandy School 14, Embarrass High, Virginia Jr College, UMD, and the U of M. In 1968 he was a summer term geologist for Hanna Mining, then taught school in Austin Mn. In 1969 he enlisted in the Army serving in Viet Nam in the XXIV Corps Artillery where he earned the Bronze Star, achieved the rank of Sergeant E-5 and began his battle with PTSD. After arriving home Harold worked for the MN Dept of Health in Mpls then moved back to the Iron Range working for St Louis County for 35+ years in Environmental Services, first with the Health Dept and from 1991 as Solid Waste Program Administrator until retirement. He served as Pike Town Board Supervisor and 10 years on the state Water Well Contractors and Mineral Explorers Advisory Council, was a Knight of Kaleva and a Jr Curling instructor to many area youth.

He met Janet in Jr College. They were married in 1973 and built their home in Pike raising daughter Mindy and son Eric. Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren came along to brighten his life. Harold was social and enjoyed his old classmates, the many friends made throughout Environmental Services, Kaleva and Curling through the years. Hunting, fishing, wild ricing, shedd hunting, gold panning “out west”, logging, potato planting, riding his Harley, visiting Linda……. You name it, he did it.

Harold loved his family and will be deeply missed by wife Janet, daughter Mindy (Paul) Martin, son Eric (Bethany), grandchildren Tanya Montgomery (Mike – children Amelia, Allen, Aiden, Alec and Aliza), Allen (Beth – children Will and Kate), Brendan (Anna- children Aria, Erika and Isabelle), brother Marvin (Marge) Hietala, special sister (neighbor, friend) Linda Gish, brother in-law Richard (Cindi) Knipfer and family, nieces Wendy, Shelley, close nephew Steven, and many cousins, especially Ron, Roger, Chuck and his lifelong friend William Raida. He was preceded in death by niece Donna and other relatives.

He was a perpetually brisk walking, task oriented, slim Finlander rushing through life…..an honest, loving, decent man. He will be missed.

In respect of the fact that Harold spent his life as a public servant concerned for and working for the public good, in this time of Covid a private memorial will be held. Arrangements are with Range Funeral Home in Virginia. To sign the online guest book or to send condolences, please visit www.rangefuneralhomes. The family thanks staff of A wing at Edgewood and staff at Silver Bay Veterans Home for their care of Harold.

10 thoughts on “Harold William Hietala”

  1. Ross Harvey says:

    Eric and family: my deepest condolences. What a great man Harold was! Taught me how to curl and I was fortunate to teach many others, with him at times, and I always used the same technique he used to teach us!
    I always looked forward to curling with and against him. Our visits after were always so great!

  2. Sonya Nelson says:

    Harold was a supervisor to respect. I want his family to know that he was the best boss ever and always made time to listen to you. My heart goes out to Janet and family for his loss. He was a good man and will be missed.

  3. Marcel and Julie Moulzolf says:

    Janet, our most sincere sympathy to you and your family. Marcel and Julie Moulzolf

  4. Rebecca Bone says:

    Janet and family, our deepest sympathy in the loss of this very kind/warm hearted man. I can hear his laughter as I remember the years we worked together. He so enjoyed helping young curlers when he retired. He will be missed. Han on sisukas meis. (He is a man with SISU.)

  5. Carol Mallaro says:

    Our world has lost a WONDERFUL man! The “Flying Fin from Embarrass” was my favorite supervisor ever. He was respected by all. If only more people were just like Harold! My heart goes out to Janet and family.

  6. Gayle Joslin says:

    I still remember meeting Harold, Marvin and Linda nearly 60 years ago. It was a big event to have the Minnesota relatives come to visit us in Montana. Sylvia (my mother, and their cousin) was so excited for this visit. Decades later, she and I would attend a very special family reunion at grandma Sippakka’s farm, and then more frequent trips between MN and MT would follow as “Poz” and I would return to his mid-west stomping grounds. We so enjoyed having our MN relatives come “gold panning” or sitting in the sauna telling jokes. Harold’s hearty laugh and sense of adventure were infectious. Thank you all, and particularly Harold, for the memories.

  7. Butch Panula says:

    Harold was a kind and helpful person for the Knights of Kaleva. He will be missed.

  8. Peter Esala says:

    So sorry for your loss of a great man and thank you for his Vietnam service. Harold was 3 years younger and we enjoyed good times timeS together in school, In the community, at Raida’s, his cousins the Palmi’s and more.

  9. Steven Altobelli says:

    My condolences to all who KNOW Harold.  I will truly miss one of my favorite Uncles.

    15 years his junior, I vividly remember when Harold was drafted and had to go to war in Vietnam.

    I had many nightmares involving Harold not coming home alive, especially when I stayed over night at “The Farm.”

    Harold, Janet, and Linda used to play with my Sisters (Donna, Shelly, Wendy) and I a lot when we visited Grandma (Ellen) & Grandpa (Arne) Hietala.  “What gives?”  He would ask as he playfully chased and sparred with us.

    Harold taught me many important things at a very young age, like how important it is to wash my armpits while we were in Grandpa Hietala’s (my favorite man in the world) sauna.

    Approximately 27 years later, the instructor of my voluntary parenting class suggested:  “Nothing smells worse than a 9 year old boy.”  Believe it or not, I immediately thought of Harold’s practical wisdom; even if it was prudently self-serving.

    Harold proceeded to help teach me how to accurately shoot the pellet gun my “Daddy Marvin” gave me, but even more importantly; how to be safe with it.

    As I aged, Harold & Grandpa H. taught me how to read the lay of the land utilizing topographical maps, and how to predict whitetail movement, but even more importantly; how to find my way out of the woods with the sun and a compass no matter how lost I was.  The real challenge was when we had a compass with the north needle pointing south!!!  “Always believe in your compass,” I was taught.  The sun trumps the compass.  Ask me how I know?

    Harold & Grandpa H. taught me how to paddle a canoe, but more importantly; how to keep a low center of gravity no matter how excited we were. (Ask me about the very first time I ever felt the recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun?)

    Yup, you guessed it.  It was a cross-shot at two mallards flying perpendicular to the canoe we occupied ON the Sandy River, not in it.  Low center of gravity helped, but the man in the back of the canoe saved us from that predicament…thank God as well!  (Incidentally…I missed)

    We shared many fond memories in our deer hunting camp.  Harold loved to drive deer.  He never really wanted to shoot a deer, evidenced by the fact that he often did not carry his custom-built .308 Seiko while making a deer drive to us.  It was his desire to drive bucks to us.

    In the late-90’s I bought one of the first motion-detecting, heat-syncing trail cameras ever manufactured called a Camtrakker.  (Grandpa H. liked it.)

    After developing a roll of 35mm film from my whitetail surveillance camera, I noticed a photograph of (unarmed) Harold on the swamp-transition of “The Old Camp Clearing” while he was making us a drive.  It’s no coincidence that I had my scouting camera in that small part of the huge woods we hunted because after all, this was the type of topography the whitetail bucks were most likely to be.   I almost gave Harold a Christmas card with his photo on it and a catchy slogan, such as:  “Be careful where you do your duty!!!”  Instead, I showed him the photo and offered a few words of advice.  Finally!!!  I had words of wisdom for my mentor.

    Harold and I spent countless hours together hunting, fishing Trout Lake, Lake Vermillion and Burntside Lake, etc., and visiting relatives.

    This would not be complete without mentioning one of the best role models ever, who gave birth to Harold on her 28th birthday; Grandma Hietala.  We were all fortunate to have the elder Siipakka and Hietala families as role models.

    It was always a learning experience for me, and that is what I respect most about the entire  Hietala side of my family and my Uncle Harold.  Too bad I never took up curling or disco dancing!!!  (i.e. Harold Travoltinen.)

    I would not be the man I am today without Harold’s loving, consistent, often necessary guidance.  (Especially the armpit thing.)

    The list goes on and on; just like “The Song That Never Ends.”

    The memories will not end.

    Realistically, Grandpa Hietala & Harold were like 3rd and 4th Dad’s to me, along with Marvin and Joe.

    I will never forget the lessons I was fortunate enough to experience first hand from men (and women) who led by example.  Like Father, like Sons…

    I will never forget how ecstatic I was when Harold made it back home from Vietnam.

    Just like I will never forget how sad I am now that Harold is no longer physically with us.


    Steve (Hietala) Altobelli

  10. Richard Hyrkas says:

    Harold was one of the nicest men I have ever known. Quick to laugh and never a complaint. He will be missed by everyone who new him!

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National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association