Grant F. Erickson, 89, of the Naselle Valley, Wash., died Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, in Longview, Wash., with his family at his side.
He was born Jan. 16, 1921, in Astoria, to Fredrick and Emily (Takalo) Erickson. He was raised in Naselle. Many of his fondest childhood memories came from the days he spent with his Finnish-speaking grandparents, John and Anna Takalo, at their home in Rosburg, Wash.
Known to classmates as Pete, he attended Naselle High School, where he played quarterback on the football team and graduated with the class of 1940. The summers of his youth were spent working in the Odell Lakes region of Central Oregon.
In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a medic mostly in England during World War II. After the war, he lived for a short time with his aunt, Ida Takalo, in Portland.
On Feb. 27, 1949, he married Mary June Corder. She preceded him in death in 1989. The couple moved to the banks of the lower Naselle River on Mill Ranch Road.
He married Genevieve Haven of Vancouver, Wash. She preceded him in death April 1, 2010.
Mr. Erickson was commercial fisherman. He later took a job with the Washington State Department of Transportation, where he worked until his retirement in 1978. In his later years, he spent time in Vernonia and La Quinta, Calif. His final months were spent in the Naselle Valley.
He attended the Naselle Lutheran Church for much of his life, and after he retired, took up the project of fitting some of its windows with his own stained-glass creations.
Family members said he loved spending time with his family and rarely missed the chance to watch his grandchildren in their endeavors. He witnessed his last grandson graduate from Naselle High School in June. Known locally as a fruit tree-grafting expert, he also enjoyed a good game of cribbage and taking his grandchildren fishing, clam digging and kite-flying. He loved to tend to his garden and perfected the arts of fly-tying, rock cutting and polishing.
Since he was young, he had an interest in gold and silver exploration, and took several trips, including one to Alaska, to try his hand at prospecting. He had a curiosity for the history of the local area, especially the influence of Lewis and Clark and the local native tribes on the Lower Columbia. He enjoyed the fellowship and food of his Scandinavian community. He especially cherished attending the Naselle Finnish Festival and serving family and friends his homemade bread and yogurt at Christmastime.
He is survived by two daughters, Pamela Hopp and her husband, Walt, of Kirkland, Wash., and Melody Worth and her husband, Gary, of Longview; a son, Wayne Erickson and his wife, Becky, of Rosburg; 13 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; three stepdaughters, Victory Grund and her husband, Richard, Carol Anderson and her husband, Gerald, and Jerylyn Cusimano and her husband, Jack; a stepson, Johnny Ball and his wife, Cherie; and many stepgrandchildren and stepgreat-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by two half-sisters, Rose Viola Wilson and Martha Susie Monks.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15, at the Naselle Lutheran Church, with a reception following.
Private inurnment will be at Peaceful Hill Cemetery in Naselle.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Finnish American Folk Festival, P.O. Box 156, Naselle, WA 98638; Appelo Archives Center, 1056 SR 4, Naselle, WA 98638; or Naselle Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 100, Naselle, WA 98638.
Penttilas Chapel by The Sea in Long Beach, Wash., is in charge of the arrangements. An online guest book is available at www.penttilaschapel.com