Dec. 18, 1922 - Dec. 1, 2019
On Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, Heaven gained another angel. Tapio Sakari Tulisaari of Park Falls passed away at Park Manor Nursing Home in Park Falls just 17 days shy of his 97th birthday. He was born on Dec. 18, 1922, in Vehmersalmi, Finland in a sauna on a snowy winter’s night to his parents Lydia (Soininen) and Paavo Roth, and was raised on the family farm.
Tapio was a veteran of the Finnish military serving during World War II and proudly fought the Soviet Union for his country’s freedom and independence. Speaking with his thick Finnish accent, he would captivate audiences with stories he shared of his time in service; often providing a meaningful history lesson at the same time. Injury in the line of duty left him unable to return to the active farm work he once did. Thus, he joined his brother-in-law in a fox farm business in 1945 in Finland. Tapio found the business intriguing and adapted quickly leveraging his visionary and strong interpersonal skills; launching a career in the fur business that would cover multiple continents over an 80 year period. He was valued for his in-depth knowledge of the fur business, his vast connections in Europe and his linguistic skills, speaking five different languages.
In 1957, he came to work in Wisconsin and eventually settled there, with his lovely bride, Berit Bäckman, whom he married in March 1958 (also a Finnish native, born in Helsinki). His entrepreneurial spirit led him to running his own business: Finlandia Fur House in Mequon.
Family became a cornerstone of his life, raising three beautiful children with his wife. He found much joy in his children and grandchildren, providing guidance and wisdom as they journeyed through life. His love of his life, Berit, was always a priority. His words of encouragement and gentle spirit will always be remembered.
An avid fisherman and hunter, he had a strong love for the outdoors. It’s no wonder he and his wife Berit retired to Park Falls in 1988, where the pine-filled landscape resembled his childhood home. Upon retirement he had to keep busy, so he put his knowledge to work in handcrafting one of a kind fur hats. It’s this skill that brought many people to him. And once their hat was finished, many stayed around as friends. Because although they came for the product, Tapio and Berit had a way of capturing people’s hearts through the conversations they would share along the way.
Another past time that Tapio enjoyed was writing letters to the editor in the local Park Falls paper. He provided his thoughts, perspectives and from time to time his opinions on current events. People were drawn to his creative writing skills and enjoyed reading his articles.
Tapio’s grandchildren recall many days where they would wait for him to venture in from the woods after a long day of logging the trails. He would shed his work coveralls that smelled of pine sap and chainsaw gas and head to the kitchen to mix himself an old fashioned cocktail. He’d share stories of the deer he met and fed from his hand while out in the woods. Each one had a name and a special place in his heart. Tapio’s love for the outdoors, handcrafted nature and gentle spirit touched many people throughout the years. It is a passion that is carried on by his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and generations to come.
Tapio was an active member of Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls.
He is survived by his wife Berit of Park Falls; three children: Mike (Sally) Tulisaari of Wausau, Lisa Tulisaari of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Peter (Sara) Tulisaari of Minneapolis, Minnesota; three grandchildren: Kristina (Joe) Donner of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Forrest (Ellie) Smith of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Joshua Buretta of Minneapolis, Minnesota; two great-granddaughters: Minkka and Emeri; and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Kylikki Jokela.
Funeral services will be held at Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.
Burial will follow at Forest Home Cemetery in Fifield.
A visitation will be held at the Novitzke-Birch Street Funeral Service Chapel in Park Falls on Thursday, Dec. 5, from 5-7 p.m. and on Friday at the church from 10 a.m. until the hour of the service.
Novitzke-Birch Street Funeral Service is assisting the family.