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Tauno Kalevi Wirkki
March 8, 1940 ~ December 27, 2023 (age 83) 83 Years Old
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Salem-Tauno Kalevi Wirkki, 83, of Salem, passed away Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at his home with family holding his hand.
He was born in Manhattan March 8, 1940 the son of the late Eino and Aino (Viitanen) Wirkki.
Tauno graduated from Salem Washington Academy as Salutatorian of his class and received his Bachelor’s in Science from Cornell University. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving during the Vietnam Era.
Tauno began his career with, and flew for, Pan American Airways for many years until 1991; advancing from Engineer, to Co-Pilot and then Captain. He then worked for South African Airways and finally Atlas Air until he retired.
He was a man of devout faith. He was also a servant to his community, holding many positions within the Village and Town. He was a strong advocate for anything that enhanced the community, such as supporting the proposed sewer system to allow for Salem’s growth. Most recently, he became a member of the Salem Rescue Squad, a source of connection and camaraderie that he deeply valued. Tauno was also an active and dedicated member of the Cambridge Flying Club, the Historic Salem Courthouse and the 221st Aviation Company.
Tauno will be remembered for so very many things; no one word can sum him up; the closest being that he was the epitome of the Finnish word, Sisu. A bold adventurer, he conquered the skies through the wonder of flight and explored the waters with many manner of vessel. Tauno was a student of life and a teacher to anyone willing to learn. His most cherished place was his childhood home, “The Farm”, where he developed an unwavering respect for, and broad understanding of, all living things. He possessed awesome strength, tempered by great gentleness. Tauno proved that real men DO eat quiche, and in fact, make them, loaded with his foraged fiddleheads and mushrooms. Family was Tauno’s passion. He was a fierce protector, the first to encourage, and the last to give up. Tauno was a modest man who could never understand why he was respected by so many.
In addition to his parents, Tauno was predeceased by his wife of 34 years, Pamela Mauk Wirkki who passed away April 5, 2007 and a brother, Tuure Wirkki.
Tauno is survived by his brother Olavi Wirkki and his wife Sue of Arlington, VT; his children, Randolph Wirkki and his wife Patricia of Hamilton, NJ, Deborah Wirkki of Rutland, VT, Johannah Sirkka Wirkki of Canada, Kaarina Wirkki and her husband Nathaniel Kindel of Shushan and Kristoffer Wirkki and his wife Melissa McDaniels of Bolton CT; ten grandchildren, Luukas, Griffin, Lincoln, Karin, Stacey, Derek, Sirkka, Annika, Eila and Taave; and several great grandchildren.
Calling hours are from 9-11 am Saturday, January 20, 2024 at the Salem United Methodist Church, 29 West Broadway, Salem. A funeral will begin at 11 am following the calling hours with Rev. Debbie Earthrowl officiating.
Interment with military honors will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Salem.
Tauno’s family wishes to extend specific thanks to the members of the Salem Rescue Squad; the nursing staff at Glens Falls Hospital, specifically Xania, Ali, Rory and Meagan, whose advocacy and compassion were a comfort to both him and his children; and most especially, the friends who helped family care for him during his recent periods of recovery.
Memorial contributions in memory of Tauno may be made to the Salem Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 360, Salem, NY 12865 or the Historic Salem Courthouse, P.O. Box 140, Salem, NY 12865.