NORWAY — Elsie Raasumaa Pechnik, 88, of South Paris, died on Saturday morning at Stephens Memorial Hospital, with her loving and extended family by her side.
Elsie was born in South Paris on July 13, 1924, the first child of nine to Onni and Ellen Kivimaki Raasumaa. When she started school as a first-grader, she only spoke Finnish and had to overcome the humility and challenge of not speaking English. As she did not have transportation to high school, she worked for room and board while staying in town with Oxford County’s sheriff, Francis, and his wife.
Elsie volunteered as an airplane spotter during World War II and spent many hours of her recreational time dancing on roller skates. She graduated from Paris High School.
Elsie married her high school sweetheart, William Pechnik, in February 1944. They spent 53 loving years devoted to each other until Bill’s death in 1997.
Elsie was a wool spinner for Robinson Manufacturing in Oxford for the majority of her working career. She was also accomplished in embroidery, sewing, gardening and cooking for family and numerous organizations. She especially enjoyed making Finnish Nissu and Finnish Pirrakkaas at Christmas and Easter and enthusiastically passed the tradition on to her children and grandchildren. Elsie also enjoyed fly fishing with Bill and telling stories about her life to her daughters and grandchildren.
In 1981 and 1983 Elsie traveled to Finland to visit her relatives and enjoyed many lasting and fond memories of Finland and her family.
In her later years, she stayed constantly busy and was proud of her determination and perseverance to remain independent, having what is called Finnish “sisu.” Elsie was a member of the Finnish-American Heritage Society of Maine, South Paris Universalist Church and Good Cheer Society, Masonic Order of Eastern Star, and a lifetime member of both the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign War and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Elsie leaves behind two daughters, Christina Andrews of New Gloucester and her husband, Clifford Andrews, and Billie Lou Damon of South Paris and her husband, Harold Damon; a sister, Jean Wyman of South Paris; two brothers, Tarmo Raasumaa and Onni Raasumaa, both of South Paris; three granddaughters, Darcy Sekerak of Winthrop, Tami Andrews of Rumford and Sara Spugnardi of Scarborough; two grandsons, Joseph Damon of South Paris and Robert Robbins of Auburn; and two great-grandchildren, Alison and Matthew Sekerak, both of Winthrop.
She was predeceased by her husband, William Pechnik; daughter, Mitzi Jean Robbins; sisters, Alli Manninnen and Helvi Raasumaa; brothers, John, Taisto and Arvo Raasumaa; and her parents.