IRON MOUNTAIN - Kenneth Salli, of Iron Mountain, passed away Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain. He was 85 years old and a proud World War II veteran.
He was born May 4, 1927, in Ishpeming, the eldest son of Toivo and Olive (Hutala) Salli.
Ken grew up in Covington, Mich., and as a teenager worked with the 'Billy Midget Gang' for his cousin on the Hutala Farm. He drove the tractor hay baler and performed other farm-related field work. Ken realized early that farming was not going to be his lifelong occupation.
He attended L'Anse High School until 1945, at which time he enlisted in the United States Navy. After completing basic training he was assigned to serve on the USS Point Cruz CVE 119 stationed at Bremerton, Wash. Ken served as the captain's orderly and cleaned and maintained 20mm guns. After completing the ship shakedown cruise, they conducted pilot qualifications off the West Coast and then supported war efforts in the Pacific by ferrying aircraft and supplies to forward bases in the Western Pacific Theater. The ship made ports of call in Japan, Guam, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and finally San Diego, Calif. After serving his country for one and a half years, Ken was discharged from the Navy in San Diego.
Upon returning home from the war, Ken, like many vets, was not sure what life had in store for him. He worked for a short time at Wood Development as a truck driver delivering lumber. However, his passion for sailing was still strong, so in 1947 he took a job sailing on Ore Boats on the Great Lakes from Minnesota to Ohio. Ken learned sailing was not going to be his life-long passion, and left the ship in Chicago in 1948.
Upon his return to Watton, Mich., Ken met Mary Louise Klase, and they were married on June 15, 1950. They moved to Detroit, where they started their family and lived for the next six years. For a short time, Ken worked various construction positions until he was hired by Detroit Cummins Diesel. He worked as a field mechanic in the Detroit area until his transfer to Iron Mountain Cummins Diesel in 1956. Ken remained employed by Cummins Diesel in Iron Mountain until he retired in 1990, after more than 33 years.
He had many interests over the years. He was an excellent bowler and was a member of the Hosking's Tire bowling team in the 1960s. He also excelled at the game of horseshoes whenever he had a chance to play, and enjoyed a round of golf from time to time. Ken was particularly lucky and often won when 'visiting' numerous casinos. He was an avid pool player and was especially committed to his regular Sunday morning pool games with son-in-law, Mike.
He also enjoyed numerous vacations with his son, Ken, and ventured on his own to Colorado a few times to visit his son, Mark, and other family members. He enjoyed playing occasional cribbage games with sons Ken and Chris, and daughter-in-law, April. Ken was dedicated to his regular morning coffee group at the local McDonald's with friends Elmer, Jerry, and Ron.
Ken spent his last months at the VA hospital in Iron Mountain where he felt comfortable and cared for by the excellent staff there. He celebrated his 85th birthday while at the VA with family members who traveled from Colorado, Texas, and Watton.
Ken was a beloved son, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend, and will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.
He is survived by four children, Barb (Mike) Ciochetto of Iron Mountain, Ken (April) Salli of Kansas City, Mo., Mark (Billye Moser) Salli of Timnath, Colo., and Chris (Joan) Salli of Rushville, Ind.; seven grandchildren, Mike (Tammy) Ciochetto, Tony Ciochetto, Mark Salli, Ryan Salli, Brady Salli, Jessica Salli, and Jenny Salli; 10 great-grandchildren, Cody Carlson, Michael Ciochetto, Brandi Ciochetto, Kaela Salli, Savannah Salli, Mason Salli, Kiesha Longrie, Amaya Salli, Desmond Huston, and Mekhi Huston. He is also survived by six brothers and sisters, Arlene Reta of Arlington Heights, Ill., Carlyle Salli of Parker Heights, Texas, Leona (Frank) Rayala of Watton, Russell Salli of Watton, Tom (Barb) Salli of Broomfield, Colo., and Christyne (Bob) Repp of Arvada, Colo.; and a special friend, Lisa Salli of Iron Mountain.
In addition to his parents, Ken was preceded in death by one brother, Raymond Salli.
Visitation will be Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Jacobs Funeral Home of Iron Mountain.
The memorial service will be Friday at 1 p.m. at the funeral home. Rev. James Danielson will officiate.
Burial will be Saturday at 1 p.m. Central time in Covington Cemetery in Covington, Mich. The Covington Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8935 will accord military honors at graveside.
You may light a candle in remembrance of Ken or leave a condolence for his family online at JacobsFuneralHomes.com
The family has chosen the Jacobs Funeral Home of Iron Mountain to honor Ken's legacy of life.