Kathryn (Kathy) passed away on March 19, 2020 at Woodwinds Hospital in Woodbury, MN due to complications of a chronic illness. She was born on October 15, 1949 in Virginia, MN to Willard and Elsie (Matts) Esala.

Kathy graduated from Embarrass HS in 1967; and both Mesabi Community College & Hibbing Vocational Technical College with a degree in Applied Science in Medical Technology. Kathy worked for LP Clinic, East Range Clinic, Surgical Associates and the Cook Hospital. She retired after working 30 years as a Lab Tech.

Kathy was united in marriage to Richard Paul Pitkanen October 19, 1968 and they were married for 44 years, enjoying homes in Cambridge, Pike-Sandy and Armstrong Lake in Ely.

Kathy enjoyed reading, swimming, spending time with family at Lake Vermilion, playing Scrabble with friends and watching her grandchildren’s activities.

She is survived by her children: Leah (Darryl) Pernat of Snohomish WA; Kurt Pitkanen of Ely, MN; and Keith (Rachel) Pitkanen of Cottage Grove, MN; and was also blessed with her grandchildren: Logan Pernat; Pasia, Kylie, and Claire Pitkanen. Siblings: Barbara Heino of Treasure Island, FL; Peter Esala of Lake Vermilion, MN; Gary Esala of Virginia, MN; Dianne French of Lake Vermilion, MN; Tom Esala of Australia, and Cindy (Dan) Maki of Pike-Sandy, MN; sisters in-law: Sandy (David) Theelke of Hastings, MN; Linda (Doug) Nelson of Breezy Point, MN; and Mary Pitkanen of Aurora, MN; numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Kathy was preceded in death by her husband Richard; her parents Willard and Elsie Esala; her in-laws George and Ruth Pitkanen; brother James Esala; sisters in-law: Tandy Esala, Nancy Weisinger, and Arlene Kennedy; brothers in-law: David Heino, Jim French, and Peter Pitkanen; nephews: Ryan Esala and Sean Theelke; and infant granddaughter Elsie Pernat.


A memorial service will take place at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church at a later date.

To plant a tree in memory of Kathryn Pitkanen as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

Load entries