David Harry Mattila, 70, a lifelong resident of Sebeka, died in his sleep on the morning of July 18, 2007, at his rural Sebeka home.
He was born Sept. 18, 1936. He was the youngest of nine children born to John William "Willie" Mattila and Esther (Hepola) Mattila. He lived his entire life on the Mattila family homestead in Red Eye Township. He went to District 51 country school through eighth grade and then completed school, graduating from Sebeka High School in 1954. Drafted in 1956, he served two years in the Army as a guard at Leavenworth. Upon returning home, he drove milk truck for Carl Anderson. In 1959, he began employment with Wadena County Soil and Water Conservation District. In 1961, he was hired by Wadena County Agriculture Stabilization Conservations Service (Farm Services Agency) serving as the executive director for 30 years until his retirement in 1991. He married Arlene (Graf) Mattila of Minneapolis in 1960. They raised four children. They started Pink Pony Ceramics on the family farm in 1972. They moved the business into Sebeka in 1974. They "retired" from the ceramic business in 1997. He served as the Wadena County Commissioner for the fifth district from 1994 until he decided to retire in 2006. He loved "hobby" farming. At one time that hobby grew to 120 head of horses.
He was active in 4-H, Elks, Vikingland USA (president), DFL, Extension Homemakers, Ceramic Association of Minnesota, International Ceramic Association, Sebeka Civic and Commerce (president), Menahga Civic and Commerce (president), Wadena Chamber of Commerce (president), Wadena County Historical Society, Wadena County Trails Association, Moonlight Trail Riders Saddle Club, Farmers Union, Menahga Conservation Club, Menahga Area Historical Society, United Methodist Church, Masonic Lodge, Sebeka Boosters, Wadena Ag Society, Pathways from Poverty, Cub Scouts, Webelos, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts. He served on the Vikingland Tourism Board, Crow Wing Trails Association (president), United Methodist Church Board, Troop 57 Boy Scout Council, Sebeka Centennial Chairman, Wadena County Fair Board, Wadena County Extension Board, WHELP Board Member, Western Minnesota Resource Conservation and Development Board Member, and the Kitchigami Regional Library Board (chairman). David helped establish the Crow Wing River Wilderness canoe, horse, and snowmobile trails that we all enjoy today. He helped organize Itasca State Park's 100 year celebration involving the wagon train from Minneapolis to Itasca State Park. One of his greatest joys was being a Head Start volunteer where he was affectionately known as Grandpa Dave. He never met a cup of coffee or dice box he didn't like. He was always willing to provide you an "opportunity to win" for just about every raffle going on in the area.
Survivors include his wife, Arlene (Graf) Mattila; daughters, Deborah Hershberger of Wadena, Julie (Walter Lee) Vry of Sebeka; sons, Fred (Natalie) Mattila of Moundsview, Minn., John (Michele) Mattila of Stacy, Minn.; 14 grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; sisters, Margaret Luckow of Andover, Minn., Mary Ellen Luckow of Fridley, Minn., Marlene (Harlan) Stoehr of Shoreview, Minn., Esther "Kayo" (Mel) Kirchhoff of Kenyon, Minn.; brother, Robert Mattila of Hastings, Minn. He was preceded in death by his father, John William "Willie" Mattila; mother, Esther (Hepola) Mattila, brothers, Edward Mattila, John Mattila, and Henry Mattila.
A funeral service was held Wednesday, July 25, at the United Methodist Church with the Rev. Loren Ferch officiating. Honorary Pallbearers are all of his family and all who called him friend. Active casketbearers were Michael Kirchhoff, Dean Luckow, Rick Luckow, Rod Mattila, Jim Stroschein, Darrel Mattila, Steve Mattila, Mark Kirchhoff, Stan Mattila and Bill Luckow. Berg Nylund American Legion Post 456 of Sebeka provided military honors. Interment is at Mantyla Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to Wevley Funeral Home of Sebeka.