Nov. 24, 1924 — July 10, 2021
Lempi Katri Koskela, beloved wife, mother and mummo, was born in Uukuniemi, Finland, on Nov. 24, 1924. Her parents were Matti and Ida Alvina Airitsalo. She was raised in the area of Karelia. During the Russo-Finnish War, the family relocated to Kurikka, Finland.
She was the third eldest daughter of eight children. Lempi helped at home with her younger siblings, which led to her being a nanny for a local family. She was also very fond of outdoor activities, and was particularly good at biathlons (snow skiing and shooting), and was an excellent marksman.
After the war she became a seamstress and worked in a tailoring shop. She married Vaino Koskela on Aug. 21, 1949, and they would have celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary this August. They welcomed their son, George, in 1951.
Lempi was a Finnish army veteran, where she served as a lotta (seamstress of army uniforms). Throughout the years, she was honored with several certificates and medals of honor from the Finnish government and, in 2017, when Finland celebrated its 100 years of independence, she was an honored veteran at celebrations in Astoria and Portland.
Vaino moved to the U.S. in 1955, with Lempi and their son, George, to join him in 1956. They lived in Duluth, Minnesota. In 1962, while in Duluth, they had a daughter, Leila. In the mid-1960s they moved to Hibbing, Minnesota, and opened Koskela’s Tailoring shop.
In 1977, after visiting their son in Coos Bay, they traveled up the coast to Astoria. Lempi fell in love with the beautiful spring flowers, and the next fall the family moved to Astoria. While in Astoria, she worked for Bumble Bee Seafoods and Ocean Foods, from which she retired in the mid-1980s.
She was a member of Peace Lutheran Church, Ladies of Kaleva and, for many years, was with the United Finnish Kaleva Brothers and Sisters.
Lempi loved to bake, cook, knit, crochet, sew, dance, garden, fish, read the Bible and travel. Visitors to their home were often the recipients of one of her hand-knit blankets or crocheted tablecloths.
She was always baking and donating her items to events at Suomi Hall, Peace Lutheran Church or the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival Ladies of Kaleva United Finnish Kaleva Brothers and Sisters booths.
In 1982, she and her son proudly became citizens of the United States!
She was preceded in death by her parents, Matti and Ida Airitsalo; her siblings, Maria Niemiaho, Helmi Innanen, Eino Airitsalo and Eila Suvisalmi; and in-laws, Greeta and Matti Koskela, Leevi Koskela, Matti Koskela, Pauli Koskela, Varma Jarvenpaa, Lilja Aho, Lahja Koskela, Antti Koskela and Viljo Koskela.
She will be deeply missed by her husband, Vaino Koskela; her son, George Koskela, his wife Sherry, and children, John Koskela, Cathy Koskela, Tom and Shawnae Coddington and Niki and Kevin Gould; her daughter, Leila Collier, her husband, Michael, and children, Kristofer and Laura Collier, Emmi Collier and Tyler Lane; and great-grandchildren Heidi, Faith, Bailey, Grace, Kaelin, Griffin, Greysen, Maci and Eveliina.
She is also survived by her sisters and family in Finland, Raisa and Aatos Pohjola, Aili Ala-Hulkko, Kerttu Seppanen, and their families; numerous nieces and nephews; godchildren; and great-nieces and great-nephews all around the world.
She will be interred at Greenwood Cemetery with a private family service.
There will be a celebration of Lempi’s life on July 23 at 3 p.m. It will be held in the social room of Peace First Lutheran Church, downtown campus, 564 12th St., and all are welcome.
In lieu of flowers, please give a memorial contribution in her honor to the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival Association’s Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 34, Astoria, OR., 97103.
Caldwell’s Luce-Layton Mortuary was in charge of the arrangements. Please sign our online guest book at caldwellsmortuary.com