Arlene Violet Zakula

Arlene Violet Zakula, 79, passed away peacefully at home in Clinton Township with her family at her side on May 16, 2020.

She was born on June 12, 1940 to Arvid and Sylvia Putikka.

Arlene was a fun-loving woman who devoted her life to her family and friends and people. She married her first husband Eino Santi in 1960 and together raised their 3 children in Iron. In 1982 she married Milan “Mishko” Zakula and together enjoyed lawn work, traveling, casinos and entertaining friends and families for many years.

Arlene graduated from Cherry High School in 1958, Duluth Business School in 1959, Peace Officer Certification in 1977 and an Associate in Applied Science Degree with emphasis on law enforcement. She held a variety of jobs over the years working at the celery farms in Zim, Cherry Co-op, Coates Motel and Elks Club in Virginia. She began her law enforcement career in 1975 in Kinney where she became one of the first female police officers on the Iron Range and the first woman Chief of Police in Minnesota. She retired as a St. Louis County Jail Correctional Officer in 2003. Arlene was also a State Fire Warden for 41 years and a constable for Clinton Township for several years.

Arlene had many interests including taking immaculate care of her large lawn and trees and planting beautiful flowers every year. Most of all Arlene cared for all people, no matter who they were or where they had come from. From her early years involvement in Social Ministry at her home church now called Faith United of Iron, collecting donations for the American Heart Association, Bible study groups, starting up a bike club for kids in Kinney, Clinton Senior Citizens Club, Women’s Advocates volunteer, to all her jobs and law enforcement career; people around her knew she cared for them and respected them.

Arlene is survived by her 3 children, Elaine Santi, Eric (Susan) Santi, and Lisa (Don) Butler all of Iron; step daughter Becky (John) Sunder of Shakopee; grandchildren Bobby (Amber) Butler, Billy (Wynona Clinton) Butler, and Julie (Ed Anderson) Butler and Ivan Sunder; 4 great-grandchildren, Maija, James, AnnaLisa, and Johnathan; sister Audrey Wiita; uncle Leo Kivela; and several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Arlene was preceded in death by her parents, husband Mishko Zakula, infant daughter Marie Carol Santi, brother Russell Putikka, great-grandson Jack Butler, nephews Willy Wiita and Glen Santi and her favorite dog, Sheba.


Celebration of life will follow at a later date, when we are able to safely gather, more information to follow. Arrangements were entrusted to Cron-Sheehy Funeral Home, Eveleth.

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