Nov. 12, 1940 — Feb. 18, 2018
Maija-Liisa Carlson — wife, mother, grandmother and friend — departed on her final journey Feb. 18, 2018.
Maija was born in Oulu, Finland, Nov. 12, 1940, to Aarne and Tyyne Karjalainen, during World War II. As a child, Maija remembered having to hide in bomb shelters, and other effects of the war.
She was the oldest of four children. At a young age, the family moved to Turku, Finland, where Maija received her education, and she considered it her hometown. She began a lifelong love of books at an early age. Her love of reading would continue through her lifetime, and she passed this passion onto her children and grandchildren.
After she finished her education in Finland, Maija decided she wanted to improve her English skills. She spent a short time in England, and then decided to adventure to the U.S. In 1963, relatives (the Koven family) in Naselle, Washington, provided the connection.
She attended and graduated from Clatsop Community College, and received the President’s Award. Maija lived with the college president’s family (Richard and Alice Boss), where she helped with the children in exchange for room and board. Maija met her future husband, Andrew Carlson, during this time.
Due to the sudden death of her father, she returned to Finland to be with her family. Maija and Andy continued to correspond and, in 1965, they were married in the Turku Cathedral in Finland. They returned to Astoria to begin their life together. Two daughters, Katrina and Saara, completed the family. Maija and the girls traveled to Finland during summers when possible, and her mother came to visit in opposite summers.
Maija went to work for the Astoria School District in 1978. She worked at Central School, Astor Elementary, and spent most of her employment at the Astoria Middle School, working in the library. She retired in 2002.
Maija believed education was very important, and was constantly learning new things. She had a keen ear for languages. In addition to Finnish and English, she spoke several other languages, including Spanish and Swedish, and could manage in Russian, German and French.
She also loved to travel and learn about different cultures. She traveled to many countries, including Russia, Egypt, India, China, Turkey, Peru, Chile and Poland, to name a few. She had just returned from a trip to Italy, Spain and Tunisia in December 2017.
Maija enjoyed retirement. She spent many hours working in her berry garden and landscaping her yard. She was very talented, and had an artistic side. She created beautiful cross-stitch pieces. Though she would never say so, she was an excellent baker and cook. She made some of the best authentic Finnish prune tarts and other treats. Her holiday meals and decorations were exceptional.
Three lights of Maija’s life were her grandsons, Aleks, Leo and Stian. She was always there to help with whatever they needed. Family was the most important part of her life, and she was the foundation of ours.
Maija is survived by her husband, Andy; daughters, Katrina (John) Ivanoff and Saara (Greg) Matthews; and grandsons, Aleks, Leo and Stian Matthews, all of Astoria; brothers, Mikko Karjalainen and Seppo Karjalainen and their families, of Turku, Finland; and cousins, Pirkko Ärje and Kirsti Sandell of Finland.
She was preceded in death by her parents and a brother, Samuli.
Maija was dearly loved, and her sudden illness and passing is a great shock and sadness to all. She was our heart.
Per Maija’s request, there will be no service.
Donations in her memory may be made to the Lower Columbia Hospice, Clatsop County Animal Shelter, Clatsop County Historical Society, or the charity of your choice.