Wayne Roy Heiskari was born September 21, 1927, in Halden Township, Saint Louis County, Minnesota, to Waino and Mary Heiskari. As a second generation Finnish American, he grew up in a Finnish-speaking household and didn’t learn English until he started grade school. He spent his boyhood years on his grandparents’ farm, where he was born, and small towns along the north shore of Lake Superior. He graduated from Big Falls High School in 1945 in a class of seven students. He attended Eastern Montana College in Billings, Montana, for one semester before enlisting in the Navy. Wayne served in the U.S. Navy from December 27, 1945, through October 28, 1947. He served in the Naval Hospital in South Carolina as a Pharmacist’s Mate Third Class. After discharge from the service, he returned to Billings to complete his associate’s degree at Eastern Montana College. Wayne attended the University of Idaho from 1950 -1954 to earn a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degrees. In 1958 he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master of Public Health degree.
He grew up working on the family farm and sawmill. In high school, he worked at a general store after school. While attending the University of Idaho, he also worked for his parents’ sawmill doing the bookkeeping and whatever jobs needed to be done in the family business. He taught Agriculture in Genesee, Idaho, for one year after graduating with his bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho. In 1956 he started work for the North Central District Health Department serving as a public health sanitarian for Clearwater and Lewis counties in Idaho. He transferred to Moscow to work as a sanitarian in Latah County from 1960 to 1973. It was there he met and married his wife Carol Irene Barnes in 1966. She was working as a public health nurse. Their only child, Lusina Ann, was born in Moscow, Idaho, in 1968. In 1973 Wayne transferred to Boise to work for the Idaho Department of Health as a Vector Control Biologist. Wayne retired from the Department of Environment in 1989 after working for many years with the mosquito abatement programs among other areas.
His retirement years were spent travelling with his wife Carol and working on his hobbies. He was an avid wood turner and spent many hours in his workshop and always had his door open for any of his family that wanted to work on a project. Wayne was a skilled craftsman and was able to fix anything mechanical and create anything out of wood. He believed if you had the right tools you could do anything.
Family was important to Wayne and his wife Carol. They spent all of their travels visiting any family they could along the way. Almost every summer they would travel to Minnesota to visit family relatives and even travelled to Finland to see family. Wayne was close with Carol’s family, and they attended many family reunions. When their daughter Lusina moved to Texas, they made many trips to visit and also made sure their daughter never spent a Christmas without being with her parents.
Wayne had a stroke in 1997 and survived many illnesses, including a quadruple bypass and cancer. His personal strength enabled him to continue to get around and enjoy the things he could, especially spending time in his shop. He was able to stay in his home until his wife’s passing in 2015. He moved into assisted living in November of 2015 and was there until August of 2019. He stayed active in many activities and enjoyed playing poker and other games to keep active. A decline in health led to him moving to his daughter’s home in August of 2019 until his passing on Sunday, December 15, 2019. He will be greatly missed by his family.
He is survived by his daughter, Lusina Ann Heiskari, of Boise, Idaho, and a sister, Karen Knapik of Orofino, Idaho. He leaves behind many beloved cousins, 4 sister-in-laws, 1 brother-in-law and many nieces and nephews that have touched his life over the years.
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