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EERO ULJAS KAHARA
March 28, 1940 – February 8, 2024
It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father and grandfather, Eero Kahara, of Marathon, Ontario. Eero passed peacefully at home, in his sleep, following a year-long battle with cancer.
Eero was born on March 28, 1940, in the small village of Vannakylla (old village), near Narva, Estonia, to a family of faith. His early years were tumultuous, due to WWII ravaging his homeland. When he was a toddler, his family’s farm was overrun by Russian and then German troops and his family had to dig out a trench to sleep in, to avoid being caught in crossfire. When he was three years old his homeland was being razed by bombing and his family fled by train, then boat to Finland. When he was four he contracted tuberculosis in a refugee camp in Finland, and had to be separated from his family for two years. When he was seven, along with his family, he crossed the frozen Gulf of Bothnia from Finland to Sweden at night, to avoid being deported to work camps in the USSR. When he was eight, Sweden was forced to repatriate non-nationals, so his family, along with some 370 other refugees, purchased a small ship to bring them from Sweden to safety in Canada. Their ship was not able to cross the Atlantic, and when Eero was nine, he and his family found themselves in another refugee camp, this time in Ireland. When he was ten, the Red Cross provided Eero and his family safe passage to Canada, placing them to work in the sugar beet fields in southern Alberta. His family ultimately settled on Dawson Street in Port Arthur, Ontario in the early 1950s.
Despite all of these hardships, Eero and his family were able to stay healthy and together, and forge a new life in Canada. Undoubtedly, the challenges in Eero’s early years helped him learn to make the best of any situation. He was was an optimistic person, and knew how to be happy and content in spite of difficulties. He had a zest for life and adventure, loved meeting people and making people laugh. He was happy-go-lucky and knew how to make life fun.
Eero attended school in Finland, Sweden and Ireland, learning four languages by the time he was ten years old. He attended Hillcrest High School in Port Arthur, then Central Pentecostal Bible College in Saskatoon (1961-1964). He later became a certified sheet metal mechanic through the American Can Pulp Mill in Marathon, where he worked for 41 years.
Eero loved fishing and getting out into the bush where he could clear his mind. His mother said he was a skilled fisherman even when he was a young boy in Finland. In Marathon, he would often go fishing right after work and stay out until well after dark. Mink Creek was one of his favourite places to fish. He probably could walk that trail blindfolded, and even had names for different trees along the path. He became an avid golfer and loved going out to the golf course with friends, family and especially his grandkids.
Eero also loved music and played guitar and harmonica, at home, at church or at the hospital as part of his monthly chapel services. He had a beautiful singing voice and blessed many people with it, singing at funerals or with community choral groups. In his later years he took up the fiddle and made lasting friendships playing in the Firehouse Fiddlers with Glen Campbell and many others. He loved performing with that group in Pukaskwa or at Hymers Fair.
Eero met his wife Beverley in Port Arthur in 1960. They married in June 1964 and immediately moved to Marathon, where Eero was pastoring the new Marathon Pentecostal Church. Eero adored Beverley and they built a beautiful life and home together in Marathon. They enjoyed many years of travelling together, to so many islands and far-flung places like Malaysia, Israel and Estonia. They have three wonderful children. Thanks to Eero we had so many fun adventures: downhill skiing, camping, fishing and trips into the magic cabin at Coubran Lake.
One of the pillars of Eero’s life was his deep and abiding faith in God. A pivotal moment in his life came at age 20, when he switched direction and chose to serve God. After he completed his degree at Bible College, he became an ordained minister and pastored the new Marathon Pentecostal Church for five years (1964-1969). Although he stepped away from active ministry, he continued to preach when needed in his home church and in churches in Nipigon, White River and Manitouwadge. He provided monthly chapel services for the long-term care wing at the Wilson Memorial Hospital for years. He served the Gideon bible society faithfully for years, distributing bibles wherever he could. He prayed for and supported so many people in their time of need over many years.
Eero is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years, Beverley (née Belrose), his loving children Victoria Penney, Colleen (Gord Kirk), Brent (Mary); grandchildren Leah Kirk (Skyler), Thomas Kirk, Brandon Penney and Sofie Kahara; as well as his sisters-in-law Lynda Kahara (Camille), Carole Wilson, Marlene Mandiuk, Grace Orrell (David) and Judy Belrose; his brothers-in-law Brian Belrose (Linda) and Nick Sawchuk, as well as many nieces and nephews: Donna Brinkworth, Lori Wilson, Gil Kahara (Jeanne), Laura Kahara Bayford (George), Stephen Petersen (Julie), Corinne Wilson, Lois Gross (Dave), Lorne Wilson, Darlene Wilson, Bill Sawchuk, Ron Sawchuk, Darryl Sawchuk (Marcie), Brad Sawchuk (Kelly), Travis Belrose (Nobue), Trevor Belrose (Michelle), Cheryl-Dawn Baxter, David Belrose, Rhonda-Lee Belrose, Rosalyn Boutilier (David) and David Orrell, as well as their families.
Eero was predeceased by his parents, Johannes and Dagmar Kahara, and his brothers Eeli Kahara and Erkki Kahara, sisters Lea Gilles (Kent), Mirjam Brinkworth (Bill); brothers-in law Glen Belrose and David Wilson, sister-in-law Norma Sawchuk and Beverley’s parents Gordon and Bertha Belrose.
Services in celebration of Eero’s life will be held on Tuesday, February 13, at Parkland Pentecostal Church in Marathon: Visitation 1:00-2:00 pm; Memorial Service 2:00-3:00 pm; reception and luncheon in the Parkland Pentecostal Church fellowship hall immediately following the Memorial Service. These services will also be broadcasted on facebook.com/parklandchurchmarathon and youtube.com/@parklandchurchmarathon. A private family internment will follow at a later date.
The family wishes to thank our treasured friends Dave and Oveta Hopkins, along with Dr Sarah Newbery, and home care nurses Meghan and Jesse for their wonderful care in Eero’s final days. We would also like to thank the many friends who visited and showed love to Eero in these past weeks.
Should friends so desire, in lieu of flowers, donations made in Eero’s memory to the Wilson Memorial Hospital Long Term Care Extension Campaign would be greatly appreciated.
Wilson Memorial Hospital Long Term Care Extension Campaign
26 Peninsula Road, P.O. Box 780, Marathon ON P0T 2E0