Home Swim wears Tribute to Tyyne Lothberg’s long service life, artistry | Focus on the hometown

Tribute to Tyyne Lothberg’s long service life, artistry | Focus on the hometown


Pictured (left to right) are Eila Ivonen, Eila Isaacson, Suoma Joutsi and Tynne Lothberg, officers of the Virginia Ladies of Kaleva chapter. Photos submitted.

VIRGINIA – Tyyne Lothberg was anything but.

His first name, which means “calm” in Finnish, is pronounced with a strong emphasis on the “Y”. And while Tyyne may have been short, she had a calm steel in her bones, say friends who knew and loved her.


Lothberg, who was born in Finland, recently died at the age of 102. She was an integral part of a group of born Finns or otherwise Finns who came together in a community in the “Finntown” area of ​​Virginia, including the surrounding blocks. Kaleva room.

“Tyyne was really right among all of us,” said Milli Bissonett of Virginia. “She did so many things, but she didn’t want recognition; she was so happy to be a part of the heart of the community. She was highly respected.

Lothberg was one of some 240,000 “Lottas”, women who served in the auxiliary volunteer group in Finland called Lotta Svärd. When the First Finnish Soviet War broke out in 1939, Lothberg, then 19, answered the nation’s call for volunteers to help free more men for military service.

Lothberg worked for the next five years in a Finnish Army field hospital kitchen, which was stationed near the battle front lines. As one war merged into another until the end of the Lapland War (fight against Nazi Germany) in 1944, Lothberg continued to serve.

Eila Isaacson of Virginia was Lothberg’s close friend for many decades.

Tyyne didn’t say much about what she saw during the wars, Isaacson said, but she had seen terrible things. She and her first husband immigrated to the United States after the wars, and Tyyne lived and worked on the Iron Chain for the rest of her life.

After Lothberg’s first husband returned to Finland, Lothberg decided to stay in Minnesota and she said “goodbye,” Isaacson said. Lothberg moved into the upstairs apartment of Isaacson’s house and went to work in tailoring for the Cluett-Peabody shirt factory in Virginia.

Britt’s local historian Pam Brunfelt admired Tyyne’s story when they first got to know each other.

“I thought she was one of the cutest people I have ever known,” Brunfelt said. “She was extremely talented and she was very straightforward. In typical Finnish fashion, she spoke when she thought she had something to say, and she was always very nice.

Brunfelt acknowledged that Lothberg values ​​work. Brunfelt wanted to earn Lothberg’s respect, so she walked over to the kitchen at Kaleva Hall one day and did the dishes for a few hours. Bingo!

“I’m not sure I would have reached this inner sanctum otherwise,” Brunfelt said. “She sacrificed a lot to be in America and she admired hard working people.”

For decades, Lothberg has knitted artistic mittens and stockings from Finnish wool, using Finnish patterns. She sold her wares to earn enough money to return to Finland to visit relatives, trips she continued to make until the age of 95.

Lothberg and Isaacson were and are long-time members of the Ladies of Kaleva, a group that honors their Finnish heritage.

The Ladies of Kaleva organization endures today, even though many of its long-standing members are disappearing. Isaacson estimates that there are nearly 90 members of the local left.

“When they’re gone, what’s going to happen? Brunfelt wondered.

Brunfelt sometimes wears his warm knit socks with the dark brown stripe at the top. Eila Isaacson has the last pair of Lothberg mittens ever knitted, and one latest pair of soft gray socks with a blue and red stripe that she plans to give her son. Countless other pairs of Tyyne’s mittens and socks are stored in closets and wardrobes throughout the Iron range.

“There was nothing utilitarian in his designs,” said Janel Goerdt, who lives on Lake Vermilion. “They were portable works of art.”

Goerdt said Tynne was his favorite craftsman during the annual Pikkujuolo (“Little Christmas”) celebrations at Kaleva Hall. Goerdt reckons that she was Lothberg’s best customer in terms of quantity.

“I gifted a lot of special people a pair of his mittens,” Goerdt said. “I sent a pair of them to a friend in California whether she needed them or not, and a relative in Chicago, where she really needed them.

“I will miss Tyyne, but I still have 13 pairs of mittens and six pairs of socks to remember her.” If you are very lucky, you might find a pair of these in your Christmas stocking someday.

One thing that will remain, of Lothberg’s life at least, are the beautiful and functional objects she created, as well as the memories of a determined but unpretentious woman. Isaacson recounts how Tyyne went swimming in Basswood Lake near Gilbert in mid-April, shortly after the ice died out. Lothberg was 95 at the time.

“She was just a humble woman who kept herself going, she took care of,” Milli Bissonett said. “She was truly an inspiration to the young people in the community. I wish I could have hugged her, but she wasn’t the cuddling type.

Janna Goerdt lives and runs a farm near Embarrass. When not working the farm, looking after her twins, or writing, she enjoys prowling the new non-fiction shelf at the Virginia Public Library. She can be contacted at [email protected]