Leonard Elton Hotakainen, 84, of Sebeka, died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, March 9, 2009 at his home. He was born Jan. 2, 1925, to Aato and Geela (Luoma) Hotakainen in Otter Tail County. He was raised in rural Sebeka and attended county schools close to his family's farm homes. As a young adult he worked various jobs -- logging, pipeline worker and found his niche with the railroad, working 29 years as a laborer, cook and in his words he was an "outstanding railroad man." He married Melba Josephine Weappa on Dec. 9, 1944, and they farmed in Otter Tail County. To this union six children were born. Melba died in 1960. In 1962, he married Gloria Nickolauson and to this union two sons were born. Their marriage ended in divorce after 13 years. After retiring from the railroad, he spent years living in Wadena and Sebeka area and enjoyed sharing his gift of music with many senior citizens and healthcare facilities in the area. He was blessed with two special women in his life that loved and cared for him, Betty Davis (died in 1999) and Anita Phillips, who was recently caring for him. He was an avid fisherman and hunter he enjoyed trapping over the years, as well as spending time with family, friends and in his later life loved his grandchildren. In his lifetime he enjoyed so many hobbies and pastimes, he was a champion horseshoe player, played baseball, loved playing cards, bingo and trips to the casino. He was a gun collector, knife collector and had many other collections. He will be remembered for his homemade Finnish bread, making traditional Finnish foods and for calling loved ones on their birthdays with a special happy birthday.
Funeral services were held Thursday, March 12 at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Sebeka with the Revs. Ben Carlson and Terry Dorenbush officiating. Honorary pallbearers were all of his friends. Active casketbearers were Heath Fosteson, Ronald Hotakainen, Duane Mattson, Roger Tuorila, Steve Limanen and Lee Mattson. Interment will be at Paddock Bethany Cemetery. Arrangements were entrusted to Wevley Funeral Home of Sebeka.
Survivors include his children, Betty Ann (Darrell) Hotakainen; Lance Hotakainen of Wadena, Mary (Terry) Dorenbush of Eau Claire, Wis., Nancy (Dennis) Benson of Nimrod, Duane Hotakainen of Otter Tail County, Shon Hotakainen and friend Linda Kraft of Detroit Lakes; Jay Hotakainen and his wife Jenifer (Spencer) of Wadena; 13 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; sister, Delores Walkama of Menahga; and special friend, Anita Phillips of Sebeka.