Gastineau Channel Memories


Judy (Niemi) Ripley

Karlo Kiviniemi was born in Haapajarvi, Finland on February 5, 1876, the son of Johan Kiviniemi and Maria (Viljamaki) Matiti. He was one of eight children: Iida, Johan-Aate, Kaarlo (?Kalle?), Rica, Hilda, Matti, Esa, and Ville.

He married Ida Augusta Kaanta in 1903. Ida was born in Reisjarvi, Finland, October 29, 1883. She had five brothers and two sisters. Her parents, Henry and Eva Kaanta are buried in Brontwood, Wisconsin. They came to the U.S. before their daughter, whom they left in Finland as a maid to Karlo?s family.

Karlo came to Alaska about 1906, or so. His sisters Hilda and Rica were already in Douglas. They had a laundry, then later a boarding house. Karlo worked in logging camps and sawmills. His last job was at the Treadwell Mines. Ida and the children (Rica, 31/2 and John, 2) came to the U.S. the fall of 1908. John and Rica had been born in Nivala, Finland. They settled in Douglas. Aileen and Tauno (?Tick?) were born there.

Karlo died in Douglas June 1, 1932. The occupation listed on his death certificate was ?Miner? with the cause of death listed as pulmonary tuberculosis. Ida died March 12, 1952. Both are buried in the Eagles Cemetery in Douglas.

Tauno, John and Rica were accomplished musicians. Rica played the violin for the silent movies at the old Palace Theatre. She was a violinist with the Anchorage Symphony from its beginning in 1947 until 1967. Tauno and John played as a duo (guitar and accordion/sax) during the 40?s and early 50?s at many area dances.

Tauno married Marjorie Fleek on November 17, 1934, in Juneau. They had eight children: Donald Eugene, Judith Darlene, Karl William, Lorna Gail, Lloyd Gerald, Laurie Jill, John Leslie and Meg Elizabeth. Lorna died in infancy. Donald died in 1986. Marjorie died in 1960 and Tauno died in 1981. Lorna and Marjorie are buried in the Eagles Cemetery. Some of Donald?s ashes are also there. The rest are buried up the Taku River where he had a cabin and spent recreation time.

Rica married Frank Swanson. They had four children: Douglas, Dick, Aileen and Dolly. All their children live in Alaska. Frank is deceased. Rica lives with daughter Aileen in Anchorage. Aileen Niemi married John Meggitt. They had two boys, Ronald and Charles (both commercial pilots), and lived and taught school for many years in Nenana. Aileen is deceased.

John Niemi never married. He retired from the Bureau of Mines in Douglas. He was forced to reside in Anchorage in order to receive dialysis when his kidneys failed following a surgery. He died at the Anchorage Pioneer Home in 1980 and is buried in the Eagles Cemetery.

Tauno and Marjorie?s children, Judy Ripley, Karl, Jerry and John Niemi live in Juneau. Laurie Stanley lives in Boise, Idaho, and Meg Cross in Kingsville, Texas.