ROCK — The family of Thomas “Tom” Walter Linjala, 69, of Rock, invites relatives and friends to join in the celebration of his life at his funeral at the Rock Bible Chapel on Friday, July 30. Tom died of natural causes on July 18, 2021, at Aurora Medical Center in Marinette, Wis.
“Tommy” was born on Jan. 14, 1952, in Escanaba, Mich., a son of Walter and Virginia (Hill) Linjala. He attended Rock Public School where he graduated in 1970 after achieving perfect attendance during his high school years. In 1972, he earned an Associate Degree in Electrical Engineering from Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba.
Tom learned about hard work early in his life, peeling his first stick of poplar at age five and working in the woods at age 15. He also baled hay at the local farms in West Rock. Tom worked in road construction, mason tending, and as a laborer before completing his five-year electrician apprenticeship with Rapid Electric in 1978. He was employed as an electrician with several companies throughout his career, wiring at homes, schools, the casino, a medical center, a ship, a refinery, a gasification plant, electrical substations, nuclear power plants, and paper mills. Prior to retiring in 2015, Tom worked for MJ Electric on various projects at the paper mill in Escanaba. In addition to Michigan, jobsites also included Arizona, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Tom was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 906.
Music was a big part of Tom’s life. He loved attending live performances, listening to music, and singing songs. Among the wishes he completed on his bucket list was going to an Elton John concert. Another highlight of Tom’s life was performing “Puff the Magic Dragon” on stage with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary. Shortly before his death, Tom had made a list of local outdoor concerts to attend in Delta, Marquette and Alger counties. He also was an original member of the Rock Boogie Fest, volunteering his electrical skills to the local cause.
Tom was a devoted member of the Remnants Barbershop Chorus, participating in the group’s various fundraiser concerts and other venues including singingat local community events, senior centers, and nursing homes. In addition to enjoying performing with his fellow barbershoppers for the past nine years, Tom cherished the many friendships he made along the way.
Other hobbies throughout Tom’s life included hunting, fishing, trapping, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, downhill skiing, playing horseshoes, and working on vehicles. Tom was an avid gun collector and was a member of the Delta County Gun Owners Association and the National Trappers Association. In his younger years, he played on the local men’s basketball team and two softball teams.
Tom also enjoyed sightseeing throughout the Upper Peninsula and exploring the region’s woods and waters. As a child and as a man, his playground was the forests and Escanaba River in West Rock. He hunted all his life including partridge and deer hunting. He would not bait deer but preferred to sit in a tree stand or out in the open no matter what kind of weather occurred. Each year, he looked forward to deer camp and the comradery of his hunting buddies.
In addition to appreciating nature’s woods, rivers, lakes and animals, Tom was also fascinated by weather and the changing seasons. He enjoyed viewing clouds and sunsets. He was aware of approaching rain and snow storms, always keeping an eye on the local radar on his cell phone.
Tom, also known as “Toivo” to many of his co-workers, was very proud of being 100 percent Finnish.He was witty and had a great sense of humor. He also was a knowledgeable man with a competitive spiritwho had to do things the safe and right way which often meant “his way.”
During his early 30’s, Tom’s life was radically changed when he committed himself to God. That commitment to the Lord led him to his sobriety which he was proud to maintain during the past 37 years. His faith also led him to focus on the needs of others rather than himself.He was a member of the Rock Bible Chapel and a former member of the church choir.
For many years, Tom had served the local community as an EMT. More recently, he was the Ewing Township supervisor. He was always helping friends and family and often offered his assistance to strangers in need.
Tom married his first love, Rae Ann “Ann” (Mattson) Niemela on July 20, 1984. She passed away on June 24, 2010. Tom and his second love, Jenny (Jokela) Lancour, were inseparable for the past nine years.
Tom is preceded in death by his parents, Virginia and Walter Linjala; a sister, Karen Richards; a sister-in-law, Yvonne Jokela; and a nephew, Jesse Burney.
Tom is survived by his girlfriend, Jenny Lancour of Gladstone; his siblings, Jeanne (Kenneth) LuDuc of Escanaba, Mich., Judith Burney of Wells, Mich., and John Linjala of Rock, Mich.; nieces and nephews, Venessa Tillman, Kenny LeDuc, Lisa (John) Martin, Michael LeDuc, Karen (Ray “Bear”) Phillips, and Colin Burney; great nieces and great nephews, Catherine Tillman, Alyssa Tillman, Emily Martin, Logan Martin, Johnny Phillips, Jesse Phillips, Katy Scales and Nathan Burney; step-children Shawn (Richard) Hatch, Scott Niemela, and Heather (Joel) Jacobs; step-grandchildren, Morgan Hatch, Danielle Niemela, Alex Niemela, Logan Jacobs and Roland Lancour; and many cousins, aunts, uncles and friends.
Tom’s life will be celebrated during a funeral at the Rock Bible Chapel on Friday. Visitation will take place from 3-5 p.m. with a service at 5 p.m. Dinner will follow. The family will bury Tom’s ashes at the Rock Cemetery during a private gathering at a later date. The Skradski Funeral Home of Gladstone is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.