Obituary: Toni Ellen Tikkanen
CALUMET -- Toni Tikkanen died peacefully at her home near Calumet on September 20,
2004, after eight years of living courageously and vibrantly with breast cancer.
Toni was born on July 6, 1946, to Louis and Freda Segal in Detroit, Michigan. After graduation from Cass Technical High School she completed
a Bachelorís degree in speech pathology at Wayne State University in 1967 and a masterís degree at the University of Michigan in 1977. Over
her career she was employed as a speech therapist in the public school systems in Detroit,
Duluth and Minneapolis; at the Copper Country Intermediate School District; at BHK Head Start; and at the
Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District Early Childhood Centers, from which she retired in 2001. Toni combined her love of music and dance
with her speech therapy, using her banjo and singing to teach speech and language skills. Toni also worked for two years in the Continuing
Education Department at Suomi College (Finlandia University) organizing
Elderhostel and community education events. She is fondly remembered as the organizer and leader of the continuing education course
"Tasting Great Chocolates of the World" -- dark chocolate being Toniís favorite food.
Toniís passions throughout her life were music and dancing. She was an accomplished folk musician playing the guitar, banjo,
accordion and piano and also singing in English, Finnish, French, Hebrew,
Yiddish and several Balkan languages. With her husband, Oren, she played in the Thimbleberry Band, the Thimbleberry Hi-Liters, Will Kilpela and
Friends and the Finn Hall Band. She appeared frequently throughout the Upper
Peninsula, Wisconsin and Minnesota and recorded as a vocalist with the Finn Hall Band.
Toni performed in l982, l992 and 1997 at the Kaustinen Folk Festival in Finland and was a musician with the Kisarit Finnish
Folk dance tour to Finland in 1988. With her husband, she was the co-founder of the Finnish-American Folk Music Festival, which sponsored
annual concerts for fifteen years at the Calumet Theatre, and of
Thimbleberry Recordings, which won two awards from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center. Toni and her husband were also given
honors by the Michigan Folklife Program at the Michigan State University Museum in 2001 for their contributions to the preservation of
traditional music in the Upper Peninsula.
A graceful and skilled folk dancer, Toni was the founder and teacher for the Northern Lights Folk
Dance group in Crystal Falls and for the performing folk dance group
known as Kantodancistaro. She was a long-time member of the Copper Country Folk Dance Club.
Toni had a life-time commitment to peace and social justice issues. She was a co-founder of the Northwoods Peace Alliance in Iron County and was
a contributor to many progressive organizations. Toni was also a founding member of the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Toni is survived by her husband, Oren Tikkanen, whom she married on December 17, 1966, in Detroit; by her father Louis Segal, sister, Marilyn
(Gabriel) Attar and nieces Michelle and Ashley all of Farmington Hills, Michigan; a brother Raymond (Laura) Segal and children Faina, Nili and
Coleman Segal of Watsonville, California; cousins Renita (Robert) Linkner and Sydney (Helen) Kraizman of Bloomfield Hills; her
father-in-law, Harold Tikkanen , her brother-in-law Thomas (Babette) Tikkanen and his children Joshua, Rudy,
Christina and Rebecca of Calumet; and sister-in-law, Pat (Don Curto) Tikkanen of Marquette. She
was preceded in death by her mother Freda Davis Segal, her mother-in-law, Terry Tikkanen, her step-mother Sally Segal, aunts Etta
Davis Wyckoff and Ann Davis Kraizman and uncle Jack Davis.
The remains have been cremated, and a Unitarian-Universalist memorial service celebrating Toniís life will be held at the Good Shepherd
Lutheran Church in Houghton, MI, on Saturday, October 9, 2004, at 4 p.m., with Reverend Sidney Morris and Reverend Carol Hepokoski
officiating. Persons attending are asked to wear bright colors, always Toniís preference. A dinner and fellowship of music and dance will
follow. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy the family requests that contributions in Toniís name be made to the Omega House residential
hospice program, 920 Water St., Hancock, MI 49930.
|Editor's Note: Keweenaw Now wishes to
express our deepest sympathy to the family of Toni Tikkanen, long-time
friend and dance teacher. Her life of generosity and kindness and her
courageous fight to keep living, loving and dancing is an inspiration to
all of us who knew her.
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