ROGER THOMAS “Smutt” NIEMELA
March 29, 1946 – June 3, 2019
Roger Thomas “Smutt” Niemela, age 73, a long time Park Rapids area resident, formerly of Menahga, MN, died unexpectedly on Monday, June 3, 2019, while being stabilized in a medivac helicopter for an emergency transport to Fargo, ND near his home north of Park Rapids, MN.
Roger was born on March 29, 1946 to Asher and Sylvia (Pietila) Niemela on their farm in Green Valley Township of Becker County northwest of Menahga, MN. He attended country school near his home through the eighth grade and then went on to attend high school in Menahga from where he graduated with the Class of 1964. Roger graduated in late May and was drafted into military service in June. He entered the United States Navy where he served at the San Diego Naval Base. After receiving his honorable discharge, Roger returned to Minnesota where he gained employment working in Minneapolis for several years. He then returned to the Menahga/Park Rapids area where he worked for Clyde Johnson clearing right of way for the power lines for several years. Roger then began working in water and sewer construction as a pipe setter/laser beam operator in a career that spanned several decades primarily working throughout the Twin Cities area until his retirement in 2008. Roger enjoyed the outdoors; especially when he could be hunting or fishing with family or friends. He loved baseball and was a pitcher for the Midway Snurdbirds until in his mid-thirties. He also enjoyed following college sports; especially during March Madness each year. He loved to garden and one year had meticulously nurtured four gardens into abundant harvests. He loved touring the country roads with his dog, Afton as his co-pilot. In 2011, Roger suffered a heart attack and underwent a triple heart bypass. Above all, Roger devoted his life to his dearly loved wife, Renee, his son, Eric and his daughter, Tina.
He will be lovingly remembered by his wife for these past 41 years, Renee of Park Rapids; his son, Eric Niemela of Bemidji, MN and his daughter, Tina of Sauk Rapids; two sisters: Joan Wehmas of Osage, MN and Hilda Niemela of Menahga, MN; three brothers: Arnold (Dagmar) Niemela of Willow River, MN, Eugene Niemela of Menahga and James (Ann) Niemela of Brooklyn Park; one brother-in-law, Arnold Barlund of Osage, MN as well as many nieces, nephew, other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two children in infancy; his sister, Vera and one brother-in-law, Harvey Wehmas.
A Celebration of his Life will be held from 11 AM to 1 PM on Saturday, June 8, 2019 at the Otto Hendrickson American Legion Post #212 in Park Rapids. The Star of the North Marine Corps League will be providing full military honors at 1 PM. Family and friends will host a luncheon for all.
To leave online condolences or to view the video tribute please visit www.jonespearson.com