Hechsel, Erma Minnie 88

Erma Minnie (Lange) Hechsel, age 88, of Cokato, formerly of Howard Lake, went home to be with her Savior on November 21, 2023.

Erma was born on January 12, 1935, to William and Erna (Hensel) Lange. She was baptized into Christ on February 17, 1935, confirmed her faith on March 21, 1948, and joined in Holy Matrimony to Arnold Hechsel on April 5, 1953, all at St. James Lutheran Church in Howard Lake.

She was an excellent baker, quilter, flower gardener, and partner on the farm with Arnie. She sang in the Senior Choir at St. James for many years.

Erma is survived by her loving husband of 70 years, Arnold of Cokato, her children, Diane (Glen) Johnson of Annandale, LaNette (Terry) Thorson of Howard Lake, Susan (Robert) Moritz of Hutchinson, Wendy (Jason) Mapes of Monticello, and Jeffrey Hechsel of Plymouth. She is further survived by 10 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and sister-in-law Ruth (Martin) Latzig of Howard Lake.

Erma was preceded in death by her parents, sister Orvilla Lange, and great-granddaughter Marlys Johnson.
Christian burial for Erma will be Saturday, November 25 at 11:00 am with the Rev. Mark Loder and Vicar Michael Speckhard officiating and Luke Dahl as organist. Visitation to be held 1 hour prior to service.

She will be buried at the Howard Lake Cemetery to await the glorious resurrection of all flesh at the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to St. James Lutheran Church or School.


Kantola, Russell Richard 85

Russell R. Kantola of Annandale, went to be with the Lord on the 16th of November, 2023 at his home in French Lake Township.

Russell was born to Richard & Lillian (Tolonen) Kantola. He graduated from Annandale High School in 1956. He was married to Marlene Volk on May 1, 1971.

He is survived by his wife Marlene Kantola, sons Robert Kantola of Eden Valley, Rick Kantola of Annandale, and granddaughter Kylee (Cody) Woehl of Dickenson, ND.

Russell is preceded in death by his parents Richard & Lillian Kantola, sisters Elsie Newago, Bernice Baker, Eleanor Esjornson & Viola Gutknecht.

Memorial Services will be held at 1:00 pm Friday, December 1, 2023 with visitation one hour prior to service at the Heartland Evangelical Free Church in Annandale, MN.


Waataja, Shirley Arlene 85

Shirley Arlene Waataja, age 85, passed away surrounded by her family at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids on November 16, 2023.

Shirley was born June 22, 1938 in French Lake Township to Raymond & Ailie (Bajari) Karie.

She attended French Lake Country School and Annandale High School where she graduated with the class of 1956.

On May 3rd, 1958 she married Paul Waataja with whom she recently celebrated 65 years of marriage. They made their home south of French Lake Corners and raised their family there.

Shirley worked a variety of jobs but found her passion doing home health care as an aide and continued there up to retirement.

Shirley & Paul took many road trips across the country. They also liked to camp and spent the last 29 years of summer weekends at Sherwood Forest near Mille Lacs Lake where she had many friends and relatives. She was an avid Twins fan and loved her furry companions she had throughout the years.

Shirley very much enjoyed the fellowship she had within her church community as well. Above all she loved her family and will forever be missed by them.

She is survived by her husband Paul, daughter Lori (Rolf Hogan), sons Jeff & John Waataja, grandchildren Michael (MacKenzie), Emily (Nick Faber), great-grandchildren Lola & Mikko Waataja. Bonus family: Derek, Erika, Dylan, Evan, Kate, Hank, Riley & Darby Hogan.

Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, brothers Leslie, Milo (Shirley), Melvin (Judy) & Roland Karie.

Services will be held at 11:00 am on Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at Kingston Apostolic Lutheran Church, with visitation one hour prior to service.


Peterson, John “Jack” Gilbert 80

John “Jack” Gilbert Peterson, 80, of Cokato, MN, passed away on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, at the Buffalo Hospital, Buffalo, MN.

Jack was born on January 13, 1943, to Gilbert “Gibby” Leroy Peterson and Doris Victoria (Rost) Peterson at Fairview Hospital in Minneapolis, MN. The family moved to Cokato in December 1943.

Jack was baptized at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato on April 10, 1943, and confirmed at the church on May 25, 1958.

Jack graduated from Cokato High School on May 31, 1961, and started his post-secondary education at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN, for the 1961 fall semester. In December 1962, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and his training began February 1963, at Parris Island, SC. Once basic training was completed, Jack started aircraft mechanic technical training in Jacksonville, FL, and later in Memphis, TN.

In 1966, Jack voluntarily returned to active duty with the Marine Corps and was deployed to Vietnam and stationed at Da Nang and Chu Lai before returning to the United States in 1967. In 1974, Jack joined the US Army Reserve. He served with the 336th Military Police Detachment (Confinement) in Rochester, MN; the 825th Supply Company in Wilmar, MN; and the 785th Medical Detachment (Psychiatric), 5501st USAH, Ft Snelling, in St Paul, MN. Jack retired from the military in 1996 after serving for 26 years.

After Jack returned from Vietnam in 1967, he continued his post-secondary education at Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN. He finished his education in December 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology with a Corrections Emphasis.

In 1971, Jack started his career with the Minnesota Department of Corrections as a correctional officer at the State Reformatory for Men in St. Cloud. In 1972, he became a case worker at the prison, and in 1975, he took a position as a parole and probation officer with the St. Cloud District Office. Jack served 32 years with the Minnesota Department of Corrections and retired on May 29, 2003.

Jack married Linda Witt of Nome, ND, in 1972 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato, and their son, Joshua John Peterson, was born on September 1, 1974.

Even though his first marriage was not a rousing success, Jack found a nice lass named Rebecca Benoit in St. Cloud. They were married in a civil ceremony on August 17, 1987, in Jackson, WY, and on February 12, 1988, they were married in a private service at Christ Church Newman Center near St. Cloud State University campus.

Jack enjoyed deer hunting and fishing with his brothers and son and volunteering on the Ski Patrol at Powder Ridge in Kimball, MN. His other interests included cooking, gardening, genealogy, traveling, watching sports with his son, writing the history of Cokato weekly article for the Enterprise Dispatch, and most of all, dancing with his wife Becca.

Jack is survived by his wife, Rebecca Benoit of Cokato; son, Joshua of Hutchinson, MN; and brothers, James of Annandale, MN, Jerrol of Georgetown, TX, and Joel of Coon Rapids, MN.

Jack was preceded in death by his brother Jeffrey Jay Peterson in 1963; parents, Gilbert in 1975, and Doris in 1988; and first wife, Linda in 1994.

Funeral service will be held at 11:00 am, Thursday, November 16, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato with visitation one hour prior to service. Burial followed at the Evangelical Lutheran Cemetery in Cokato.

Memorial donations will be given to Heart of Minnesota Animal Shelter in Hutchinson and the Cokato Food Shelf.


Barth, Kim Marie (Breault) 67

Kim Marie (Breault) Barth was born on May 19,1956 in Minneapolis to DuWayne and Adele (Hill) Breault. Kim passed away peacefully at Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, MN on November 6, 2023, surrounded by her family.

Kim was both baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith at Mt Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.

Kim graduated from Minnetonka High School in 1975 and married Dan Peterson shortly thereafter. They were blessed with two children, Marie Lynn and Jeremy Danial.

Kim was a stay-at-home mom for several years until she jumped into the family business at Star Bowling and Golf Supply. She worked alongside her parents as their masterful engraver of sports trophies until DuWayne and Adele’s retirement.

Kim was a loving and caring firecracker amongst her family and friends. She loved to share a good joke, make people laugh, shop a great thrift store and watch sci-fi movies. Kim loved a trip to the casino or a card night with friends, pumpkin pie, teasing her nephews and getting “schmootches” from her grandkids. She was an enthusiastic giver of gifts. Her family was always anticipating what crazy gift they would receive on a birthday or Christmas. She always had her Christmas shopping done in July and would anxiously await the day she could see everyone together at Christmas. Kim may not have been able to give much but she insisted on sharing what she had because it gave her joy. Sometimes her gifts were wildly away from the mark but family always got a kick out her choices and knew the intention was from her heart.

Kim loved animals! Always taking in strays and making sure they found good homes. In her younger years, she managed to talk her parents into keeping a Welsh Terrier she named Titus. He was their beloved pet for many years along with horses, Pepper and Reddy. Many family pets would follow. She would care for a menagerie of dogs, cats and birds. Kim’s first job in her teen years was taking care of the horses at the Wayzata Country Club.

Kim married Lyle Barth on June 24, 1988 in Watertown, SD. They were married for 20 years until his passing Dec 12, 2008. He was the love of her life and we are at peace knowing they are together again.

Kim suffered a debilitating stroke days after her 45th birthday and lived with the threat of an inoperable aneurysm for 22 years. Even though she was limited physically and struggled cognitively, she still was a firecracker and knew what she wanted. She didn’t suffer fools and made sure you knew it! Family gatherings will not be the same without our gregarious mom, gramma, sister, auntie and friend.

Along with Lyle, Kim is preceded in death by her parents, DuWayne and Adele, Grandparents; Murl and Sylvia Hill, Milton and Noray (LaVenture) Bistodeau and Urban Breault. Uncles and Aunts; Bud Hill, Gene and Lois Hill, Irving Nessel, Jerry and Delores Kopveiler, Lee Farrier and Robert Breault. Cousins; Gene Murl Hill, Larry Hill, Craig Hill, Laurie Kopveiler, Sharon Brown and David Nessel.

Kim is survived by her children Marie Peterson and Jeremy (Michelle) Peterson. Grandchildren; Austin Paech, Blake Peterson, Caleb Butler, Ethan Peterson and Isabelle Butler, sister, Kathy (David) Breault and nephews Cody (Beth) Barth, Patrick Barth and Taylor (Amanda) Barth and their families.

Kim is further survived by her Aunts Mary (Erick) Erickson and Mary Breault, cousins; Cindy (Tony) Green, Julie (Ken) Wills, Laurie Garnett, Ryan (Lisa) Garnett, Reenan Breault and Amy (Brian) Besick and their families.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

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