Obituaries

Tue
09
Feb

Rebecca (Becky) J. Erchul, 58

Rebecca (Becky) J. Erchul, 58, of Ely, passed away at home on Tuesday, February 9, 2021.
Becky was born on July 3, 1962 in Salida, Colorado to Jim and Josephine Black. She and her future husband Pat met in 1986, they were united in marriage in 1991 and moved to Ely in 1993.
Becky enjoyed her cats, especially “B” and Dragon, she loved her flowerbeds, the outdoors and camping at the Portage River.
She is survived by her husband Pat; daughters Nichole Herrle and Kaitlyn Erchul; son Aaron Herrle; brother Charlie Black; and sister Deborah Koch. She was preceded in death by her parents.
A celebration of life will be held later in 2021 at the Portage River.
Pat wishes to extend a special thank you to his sister Terri for the care she gave to Becky during her final months.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home.

Mon
08
Feb

Kathlyn Kainz Stone, 64

Kathlyn Kainz Stone, 64, passed away peacefully at her home in Roseville, MN on February 4, 2021 after a spirited battle against cancer.
She was born and raised in Ely, MN, having graduated from Ely Memorial High School in 1975. She earned a BA degree in communications from UMD, and worked for nearly forty years as a writer for public relations offices at VCC, the Minnesota Trade Office, the American Academy of Neurology, and the U of M Health News Review. Her career allowed her to fulfill her love of travel to places both far and near.
Kathlyn was predeceased by her brother Keith in 1970, and by her parents Ione “Babe” and Norman Kainz in 2012 and 2013, respectively. She is survived by her daughter Welsa Stone of Roseville, from her marriage to Wesley Stone; her brothers Andrew (Louise) Kainz of Ely and Kristofer Kainz of New Berlin, WI; her aunt Doreen Bistis of Hermantown, MN; and numerous cousins.

Mon
01
Feb

John Robert Slabodnik, 91

John Robert Slabodnik, 91, passed away in his sleep on January 24, 2021 at home in Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
John was born in Ely, Minnesota as a second-generation Slovenian. He grew up with the nicknames of “Sonny” and “Slabs.” He graduated from Ely High School in 1947 and Ely Junior College (now Vermilion Community College) in 1949. He played basketball for both schools and loved to tell stories of his college team’s road trips in a Buick stretch limousine throughout northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The day after his twentieth birthday, John enlisted in the U.S. Air Force pilot training program and was honorably discharged in November 1950. He began civil engineering studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. John then received a scholarship and went on to complete a property insurance program in 1954 at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where he was a lifetime member of Theta XI fraternity.

Fri
29
Jan

James M. Pinckney, 63, of Ely

Funeral arrangements for James M. Pinckney, 63, of Ely, are pending with the Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia.
He passed away Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 at Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth.

Fri
22
Jan

Frank E. Fifo, 84, of Ely

Frank Fifo was born on March 31, 1936, in Red Jacket, West Virginia, and died in Ely, Minnesota on Friday, January 22, 2021.
While some retirees spend their time on the golf course or playing cards, Frank spent his wisdom years making candy, slaying walleye, volunteering in his community, and tending to his family.
Frank made the holiday season even brighter with his edible gifting. He was renowned for his delicately dipped chocolate truffles, chocolate-covered boozy cherries, hand-crafted walnut caramels, and peanut butter bonbons. However, it was Frank’s cashew brittle that earned his acclaimed reputation as the Candy Man. Candy making was a labor of love and was his way of giving back to the community.

Thu
14
Jan

Matthew Markovich, 88, of Ely

Matthew (Matt) George Markovich passed away January 13, 2021 at his home in Ely. Matt was born in Ely on June 21, 1932 to his parents Matthew and Ann Markovich. Matt graduated from Ely Memorial High School then went to work on the ore boats on the Great Lakes. He proudly served our country in the Navy on the aircraft carrier the “Princeton”. He then moved back to Ely and worked at Reserve Mining until retirement.
Matt married Mary Erickson on November 29, 1969 at Grace Lutheran Church in Ely.
Matt is survived by his Nephews Michael (Becky) Trancheff, Blaine and White Iron; and Patrick (Ellen) Trancheff, Lake Vermilion; Great Nephew Brian (Elina) Trancheff and Great Nieces Megan (Dan) Salisbury, Kirsten Trancheff and Laura Trancheff; Great-Great Nephews Calvin, Max and Jonah Salisbury and Great-Great Nieces Ella and Millie Trancheff plus his Special Furry Friend Tundra who would be seen driving around with Matt.

Wed
13
Jan

Bob “Nisky” Niskala, 68, of Ely

Robert William “Nisky” Niskala of Ely, MN was unexpectedly taken from us on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at the age of 68. He was born in Winton,  MN on April 5, 1952 to Russell Niskala and Shirley (Ranta) Niskala. He graduated from Ely Memorial High School in 1970 and then enlisted into the United States Marine Corps at the age of 18, where he proudly served as a machine gunner in the Vietnam War. His service to our country went on to inspire his passion for all things military.
After returning to Ely from the service, Bob received his millwright apprenticeship at US Steel in Virgina, MN. He then moved on to work at Reserve Mining for a short time. With the opening of Inland Steel Mine in Virgina, Bob began the greater part of his career, and retired from there after thirty-plus years.

Tue
12
Jan

Stephen Anthony Rebrovich, age 77

Stephen Anthony Rebrovich, age 77, passed away peacefully at his home in Newman Lake, WA on January 2, 2021 with his family by his side.
He was born August 26, 1943 in Biwabik, MN. He was raised in Babbitt, MN. He married Marjorie Dallmann on November 20, 1965 and they were married two days short of 50 years.
He was a journeyman electrician at Reserve Mining Company (Babbitt, MN) retiring in 1986 and Sonoco Fibre Drum (Pittsburg, CA) in 1994.
He was an avid camper. He loved walleye fishing with his wife and grandchildren and was very good at it.
He is preceded in death by his wife Marge, parents Steve and Josephine, sister Charlotte and brother Randy. He is survived by his children: Bruce Kochevar of Mt. Iron, MN, Connie Boulet (Troy) of Lewiston, ID and Shelly Buckholz (Darin) of Goodyear, AZ; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
His celebration of life will be held at a future date.

Mon
11
Jan

James “Jim” Negri

James “Jim” Negri
Age 80, of Fridley area
Passed away 12/29/2020
James Alfin Negri, born June 15, 1940 in Hibbing, Minnesota, to parents, Felix B. Negri and Doris Carlson Negri (both are deceased).
He is survived by two Sisters, Phyllis (The late Dick Jarvi) Negri Jarvi, of Hibbing, and Dee (Tom Stilinovich) Negri Stilinovich, of Eagle, Idaho; six Nephews and one Niece. Jim was never married and had no children.
His early education was spent at Brooklyn Elementary, North Hibbing Junior High School, and graduated from Ely High School in 1959, after the family moved in 1956 to Babbitt, MN.
Jim enlisted in the US Air Force on July 14, 1959. He trained at warehouse/supply/inventory in Texas. Jim was sent to Europe after training, and he was stationed at bases in France, Germany, and the Netherlands. He was Airman E-4. Jim received an honorable discharge on January 15, 1963.

Thu
07
Jan

Lorraine “Toni” Phelps

Lorraine “Toni” Phelps passed away at the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, Minn., on Jan. 1, 2021.
She was born Aug. 20, 1934, and was a lifelong resident of Ely. She graduated from Ely Memorial High School and attended Vermilion Community College.
She married her soulmate, Lavern “Flip” Phelps in 1954. Toni worked at Pamida and later managed the Ely Steelworker’s Credit Union. She was passionate about helping her members and so enjoyed the social aspect of her position that she continued to work until the age of 79.
Toni was quick to share a laugh and enjoyed visiting with family and friends. She also enjoyed going to the casino, baking and bowling. Toni was a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church and for many years served as chairwoman of her church circle. She was the treasurer of the local American Cancer Society and was also a member of the Ladies VFW.

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