Elmer M. Aho passed away peacefully at his longtime Gwinn home on Sunday, February 20, 2022 at age 90 with his loving family by his side.
Mr. Aho was born to Finnish immigrants, John & Anna (Kalliola) Aho on the Trenary, MI family farm on November 13, 1931. He was one of 9 children, whom were all very close, and proud of their 100 percent Finnish heritage. Elmer kept in contact with relatives in Finland throughout his life with letters, phone calls, and his own drawn Christmas cards.
Elmer graduated from Trenary High School in 1949 and was drafted into the United States Army in 1950. He did his basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and was shipped to the Korean War shortly after. Elmer was assigned to the US Army Artillery HQS 235th F.A. Observation Battalion. For his tour in Korea, he was awarded the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal. Elmer was honorably discharged from the Army in 1952 and was a lifelong member of the Gwinn VFW Post 5676,
Elmer married Rita (Lancour) of Osier, Michigan on July 3, 1955. He enrolled in Northern Michigan University and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree and then a Master's degree in Education in 1960. Elmer's first teaching assignment was in the Oconto, Wisconsin school system before moving onto the Gwinn Schools. He began teaching Art at Gilbert Elementary and Gwinn High School until his retirement in 1986.
In 1988, Elmer continued his lifelong pursuit of music and songwriting. Summer breaks from school were often trips to Nashville, TN to get his songs to publishers on 16th Avenue. Elmer went on to start a second career at WJPD and WFXD radio stations where he would become a fixture on Saturday nights for country music fans. He worked on the radio for 30 years and 18 of those with his close friend and coworker, Eric Tasson. Elmer had a vast knowledge of music and would often play a son for folks out "in the suburbs as well". Elmer was thrilled when his Saturday night show was live streamed and family and friends in Finland could listen.
Elmer was very proud to be able to serve the veterans at the Michigan Veterans Home D.J. Jacobetti in Marquette. Once a week for many years he would meet with veterans to talk and read Finnish language with them and other topics.
Elmer is survived by his wife of 66 years, Rita of Gwinn; sister, Arlene (Aho) Finlan of Green Bay, WI; four children, Robin (Aho) Brady of Cheyenne, WY, Swen (Janet) Aho of Gwinn, Heidi (Robert) Case of Plover, WI and Jon (Robin) Aho of Gwinn; seven grandchildren, Joshua Brady, Kyle (Autumn) Aho, Katie Aho, Jared Case, Jenna (Travis) Moede, Luke Aho and Seth Aho; three great-grandchildren, Vincent Aho, Isaac and Matthew Moede; and many nieces, nephews & cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, John & Anna Aho; brothers, William, Arvid, Carlo, Donald and Marvin; sisters, Vivian Dunn and Signe Cady; special son-in-law, Bruce Brady of Cheyenne, WY.
A private family funeral will be held in the spring.
Canale-Gwinn Funeral Home and Cremation Services is assisting the family. Notes of sympathy may be directed to Rita Aho, Canale-Gwinn Funeral Home and Cremation Services, PO Box 1176, Gwinn, MI 49841.
Memories of Elmer may also be shared at canalefuneral.com
Nona L. Uren wrote on Apr 2, 2022:
"Mr. Aho was my art teacher at Gwinn High School. Such a friendly, very nice man with a love for music and a great sense of humor, and humble! It was a pleasure to talk with him and listen to his very popular Saturday night country music show. R.I.P. Elmer. My sincere sympathy to his family."
Curt dickson wrote on Mar 11, 2022:
"For years we've listened to Elmer's broadcast on Saturday nights during deer season , Elmer always played Goin Deer Hunting by Bobby Wooten which we enjoyed greatly , we truly enjoyed your broadcasts and listening to you and your music, RIP Elmer , Mosquito Club and Camp Mosquito , Melstrand MI"
Gerald T. Anderson wrote on Feb 25, 2022:
"Listened to Elmer's Saturday Night Music program for years....always in the Sauna, be it at the Negaunee VFW or my Camp on Little Shag Lake. Always loved his tributes during Deer Season to all the special family Deer Camps around Upper Michigan. At our Deer Camp, we always anxiously awaited Elmer's program on Saturday night. He played old classic Country Music that nobody played anymore. We loved his humor and had a lot of great laughs listening to him announce the next song and who it was going out to. Saturday night Sauna in Upper Michigan will never be the same again. Thanks for all the great memories Elmer!"
Sue and Don Knetter wrote on Feb 24, 2022:
"We will all miss Elmer, he was such a special person, always great to chat with him once in awhile, he had a smile for everyone. Our condolences to Rita and the family"
Sharon landry wrote on Feb 24, 2022:
"Our sincere sympathy to the family of Elmer Aho. I know Elmer and Rita . Elmer was a kind and talented man he touched many lives."
Monica M Zehnder wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"I had the pleasure of teaching in Gwinn at the same time as Elmer. Please accept my deepest sympathies and condolences. He was a talented, kind and professional man who touched many lives. Monica Zehnder"
Lisa St.Aubin Jahnke wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"Mr. Aho was a kind and caring man. Whether it be in our neighborhood or at Gwinn High School, he influenced many students and community members. I remember the song he wrote for our championship HS basketball pep rally?he wrote new words to The Gambler, including all the team members into the song. I sure hope someone has a copy of that recording. Condolences to his entire family. Thinking of you all. "
Tony and Sharon wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"I was sorry to hear of Mr. Aho's passing. When I would come to the UP to visit my daughter Dani Jaklin I made sure they would tune the radio to hear Elmers radio show. What a joy it was to listen to him and his memories. He will be missed Elmer and his family will be in our prayers, Tony Kovach
Jackie French wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"My sincere condolences to all of Elmer's family and friends. "
Gerry Stille wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"Elmer was one of a kind. When we spent winters in Florida years back, I was talking to him before we left about his radio show and he sent me a tape of one of his shows which we and our country neighbor fans really enjoyed, especially listening as we traveled down the highways. I wrote and thanked him and he responded with a very funny letter about how the natives were getting restless with the long winter. I kept the letter. Elmer was a talented great man. Deepest sympathy to Rita and the family.
Michele Bahrman wrote on Feb 23, 2022:
"Mr Aho was my High School Art teacher, then I got married and Grandma Bahrman wouldn?t miss a show. Years later, his grandson was my physical therapist. Funny how things come together. Elmer will be missed by many. The Aho family sure have lost a great one!!! But his memory will live on for years as he has touched so many lives. My sincere condolences to a wonderful family. "
Rick Heeti wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"My condolences to the family of Elmer. He was a very talented and enjoyable person to talk to. I remember a time back in the 60's my dad and I went on a boat ride with Elmer and Swen and stopped at an island on lake Superior. He brought his paints with him and he painted a picture. It was a great time. I liked listening to Saturday night radio show. He surely will be missed. "
Denny and Tanja Stanaway wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"We sure loved Elmer Aho's program on the radio. He was such a great person and he will be missed by at least a million people. When I heard him speak Finnish I felt that I was back in Finland. Rest in peace our friend."
Father Larry Van Damme wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"Please know of my prayers as you give Elmer back to God. Having gone to GHS with Swen & Heidi, one found see that they had the best of parents. God?s peace."
Linda Hocking wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Elmer was a wonderful person and great art teacher. I'll never forget the day he was trying to separate an egg to put into paint and was having a really heard time. The crew at our table looked at each other to see which one of us would get up and help him. It fell on Bonnie Bauman's shoulders. Up she went and showed him how to separate the yolk from the white. He was quite impressed! "
Shaun Puzio wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"A Yooper legend who will be dearly missed. I spent so many happy nights singing along with his show. It was often the highlight of my week. "
Gina Larson wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"Peace To You All At This Difficult Time?I Always Enjoyed Elmers Skit at the Trenary 4th of July Parade?In my high school years I had the pleasure of having Mr Aho as my Art teacher?SISU Gina Hautio Larson "
James Larson wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"Deepest condolences from the blueberry street gang. Larson Family "
Kenneth Kiltinen wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"I am so sorry for your loss. Elmer was my art teacher at Gwinn in 1980-1981. I will always think of him on St. Uro day and wear purple"
Randy Saatio wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"My dearest sympathy goes out to the family , relatives , friends and all those who knew Elmer Aho or listen to him on Saturday nights on the radio , country music . I retired from the activity department at D.J. Jacobetti Home For Veterans , I met Elmer there , He did a Finnish Heritage program once a week , he was even having out siders coming in to listen him on , Finnish Culture , Music and language , teaching words from the Finnish Language . He was one kind , gentle person . He will be dearly missed by all who knew him. God Bless you Elmer , family , relatives and friends . He is up in heaven , helping where ever God wants him or helping the Angels. Randy Saatio , Life member of AM /VETS , Ordained Minister and a Friend To All Military Veterans"
Brian Parker wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"My most sincere condolences to the Aho family. I remember Mr. Aho at many of the high school basketball games, back when Kyle was playing. Regardless of what town Gwinn was playing in, it seemed there was a lineup to shake his hand. He was respected and loved by the U.P. in general. Deer camps across the U.P. shed a collective tear over his passing."
Carol St. Aubin wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"My heartfelt condolences to all of Mr. Aho?s family (sorry he?ll always be Mr. Aho, ?Elmer? seems disrespectful as a former student). I will always remember his singing and impromptu Finnish language lessons in high school art class. He was kind and funny, you could tell he enjoyed life and loved sharing his passions with others. May his memory bring comfort to all of his loved ones."
Kathy Laakso wrote on Feb 22, 2022:
"Dear Rita and Aho Family
We have lost an ideal example of a true "Sisu" Finnish Yooper and a dear kind man. What good traditional country music entertainment he provided for so many years to all of us, he is a legend. My deepest sympathy to all of you in the loss of your beloved Elmer. Sharing in your sorrow.
Eric Tasson wrote on Feb 21, 2022:
"My thoughts and prayers are with Elmer's family. I will forever cherish the memories of working with Elmer every Saturday night. His stories and knowledge of country music always kept me and his listeners entertained. May he rest in peace."
Jeanne Nordeen wrote on Feb 21, 2022:
"There will never be anyone like Mr. Aho. A Real artist, a Real art teacher, a Real great guy. I will always love him and am so proud to be 1/2 Finnish at a time like this. Hyvasti Ystava "
Dennis Paulson wrote on Feb 21, 2022:
"Our condolences go out to the Elmer Aho's family. Listen to Elmer On Saturday nights he always played good country music.
Tony Pizziola wrote on Feb 21, 2022:
"Rest In Peace Elmer keep the radio up loud and the gwinn modeltown blues playin!"