Gardner-Valma Elin Wauhkonen, 97, passed peacefully at her lifelong home with her loved ones at her side on January 31, 2023.
Valma was born in Gardner on July 22, 1925, the youngest daughter of the late Nestor and Ida (Liukkonen) Wauhkonen. She was predeceased by her older sister, Vera E. Craig (Wauhkonen) of Clinton Township, Michigan in 1998.
She leaves her cousins, Tom Lanen and his wife Bonnie of Hopkinton, MA; Mark Lanen and his wife Susan of Richmond, NH; and close friends, Greg and Hope Lagoy of Templeton.
She graduated in June 1943 from Gardner High School and began work on July 1st at the First National Bank (now TD Bank) where she stayed for 44 years until her retirement in 1987. At the time, the bank was hiring young women of different ethnic backgrounds - - Polish, French Canadian, and Finnish, because many of its older customers, spoke broken English. Valma was hired on the spot because she was fluent in Finnish.
Valma was a member of the Faith Lutheran Church. Her parents were both born in Finland, and she grew up worshiping at the former Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, (later Bethel Lutheran Church) on West Street in Gardner when services were all in Finnish, (the church later switched to English). Valma, who began teaching Sunday School at age 16, was active in the Lutheran Church all of her life. She sang in the choir for over 60 years, was treasurer of the Church’s Women’s Group, was active in many church committees, and had other financial responsibilities for the church due to her tenure at the former First National Bank.
Valma felt fortunate to have traveled so often with her older sister, Vera. Together, they traveled the Canadian Rockies, Hawaii (twice), Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, England, Wales, Scotland, and of course the Scandinavian countries including, Hankasalmi, Finland, where her parents were born. Later they cruised the Caribbean on a Norwegian liner built in Finland.
Valma was especially proud of her Finnish heritage and had many fond memories of gathering with family and friends for fun at the family camp, sauna, and outings with the “lunch bunch”.
We would like to thank all of Valma’s caregivers over the past three and a half years. You all played a big part in fulfilling Valma’s wish to remain in her childhood home. The love, support, and kindness you all gave her will forever be remembered. A special thank you to Julie, Jen, Martha Angelica, and Betsy.
Valma was a very unique and special person and touched many hearts as she walked through life. Her incredible grace, resilience, strong faith, and wisdom is a reminder of how to live and treat others.
When a cardinal appears in your yard, it's a visitor from heaven. Please think of Valma.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Faith Lutheran Church Scholarship Fund, 627 Green Street, Gardner, MA 01440, or to the Calumet Lutheran Ministries, P.O. Box 236, West Ossipee, NH 03890, www.calumet.org.
Calling hours will be held on Monday, February 6, 2023, from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. with a funeral service at 2:00 p.m. in the Mack Funeral Home, 105 Central Street, Gardner, MA 01440.
Burial will follow in the Wildwood Cemetery, (RT68) West Street, Gardner, MA.
To leave an online condolence please visit, www.mackfamilyfh.com
Kevin J. Mack, Walter C. Taylor, and Douglas M. Stone, funeral directors.