Funeral service for Raymond Nielo Nikkola, 84, of Palo will be 10:30 am Thursday, November 2, 2017 at the Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home in Aurora with Pastor Eric Thiele officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Interment will be in the Rauha Cemetery in Palo with military honors accorded by the Aurora-Hoyt Lakes Color Guard. Raymond, the unofficial mayor of East Palo, passed away Oct. 20, 2017. Raymond was born in Palo to Liisa Eveliina Halonen and Matti Nikkola on Feb. 20, 1933. He attended high school until the rift between the “farm kids” and the “city kids” (Aurora) crossed the line for him, at which point he came home and told Lizzie he was not going back to school. He worked on the ore docks in Two Harbors until he joined the Army and served from 1955-57, stationed in Italy where he served as a Military Police Officer. He returned to Palo after his service and lived for the rest of his life on the farm that Matti had cleared when he came from Finland. Raymond worked as a locomotive engineer for LTV until he retired at age 55, at which point he took on his “mayoral responsibilities.” Raymond embraced many of the characteristics attributed to Iron Range Finns. He loved coffee with neighbors, and all things sweet, especially donuts. He was an avid gardener, growing tomatoes and beautiful flowers. Through the US government’s reforestation program, he planted hundreds of trees on his farm, which would have caused his father to roll over in his grave. He once rescued an apple tree from a friend’s farm to “save it from going to the dump,” planting it at his farm in Palo, where the tree continues to bear huge apples ever year. Over the years, he would enjoy lifting a glass with friends. He was an avid reader, especially of newspapers. He loved nothing better than finding a good deal. He was a “collector” of everything; enjoyed nature, fishing, hunting and attending auctions. He kept the birds, stray cats, and deer on his property well-fed, and his freezer full of venison. He travelled to Finland, Florida, and to visit his sisters (Fannie Kangas in Boise, Idaho and Escondido, California, and Florence Knox in St. Cloud). He is survived by many nieces and nephews (Fannie Kangas’ children Judy, Janet, Joyce, Dick, Julie and David; Florence’s children (Craig, Wendy, Marcie and Jan); and dear friends Doris and Orlen Helgerson, and Bobby Jo and Dean Mineheine, who took great care of him in his last years. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sisters.