Cover photo for Helen "Jean" Otonichar's Obituary
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1926 Helen "jean" 2019

Helen "Jean" Otonichar

January 29, 1926 — February 23, 2019

Funeral service for Helen Jean Otonichar, 95, of McKinley will be 11 am Thursday, February 28, 2019 at the Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home in Gilbert with Pastor ­­­­­­­John Dietz officiating.  Visitation will be one hour prior to the service.  Interment will be in the Lakeside Cemetery in Biwabik alongside her husband, Anthony where five generations of her immediate family are all laid to rest. Helen died peacefully Saturday, February 23, 2019 at St. Raphael’s Health and Rehabilitation Center in Eveleth after suffering from several health issues this past year. She was born on January 29, 1924 to Martin and Mabel (Haldorson) Matson in her family home in McKinley, where she continued to reside her entire life. She graduated from Gilbert High School, Class of 1941 and later Eveleth Junior College where she earned a medical secretary degree in 1943.  She had been employed by Lenont-Peterson Clinic for several years.  She left her job to marry Anthony Otonichar on October 11, 1947. Together they raised and educated three children: Danny, Debra and DeeAnn, while continuing to care for her aging parents and elderly aunt.  Jean, as she liked to be called, dedicated her whole life to her family. Everything she ever did was to help make their lives better.  Being raised in a Norwegian household as a young girl, she learned the traditions and customs of Norway, quickly mastering the skills needed to make a Norwegian holiday meal.  Once married, she relied upon her in-laws to teach her the customs and ways of her Slovenian husband.  Once again, she mastered the cooking and baking traditions of his family.  Her own family was raised on strudels, poticas, fattigman, and homemade breads and jams.  After her husband died in 1983, she continued to devote her life to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  Her family was truly her entire life. Jean enjoyed traveling and was fortunate enough to visit her homeland of Norway twice, as well as spending time in China, Japan, the Galapagos Islands, and several other European countries. For over seventy years, she spent summers at family cabins on Lake Vermilion, stopping only this past summer due to her deteriorating health.  For the past several years, pontoon boat rides became one of her favorite summer pastimes, as she enjoyed spotting eagles along the rocky shorelines.  Jean found great pleasure in the outdoors.  In the spring, she would watch the spotted fawns eat grass by her cabin.  In the summer she would watch hummingbirds feed from her flower pots.  On long winter days, she would stand by the window watching the blue jays and squirrels fight over the birdfeeder while the prairie chickens ate from her crabapple trees.  All of these sights, and so many more, brought great joy to her.  Although she didn’t like to garden herself, Jean loved flowers.  Each summer, she would spend hours taking care of her planters at home and in the cemetery.  She looked forward to her lilies blooming, as her favorite flower was the calla lily. Survivors include her children: Danny (Rhonda) Otonichar of Mt. Iron, DeeAnn (Larry) Lindholm of Mt. Iron and Debra Otonichar of McKinley; four grandchildren: Corey, Breiann, Kristina, and Jordan; five great-grandchildren: Kobe, Kirsten, Christopher, Natalie, and Kaylee; as well as several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, Anthony; first born granddaughter of Danny and Rhonda, Amy; sister, Clarice; brother, Melvin; and her parents: Martin and Mabel Matson.    
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

Ziemer-Moeglein-Shatava Funeral Home-Gilbert

108 Broadway, Gilbert, MN 55741

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