John A. Mikkola

HANCOCK – Honorable John A. Mikkola, 69, a resident of Hancock and retired Houghton County Probate and Family Court Judge, died on November 23, 2013, at his winter home in Alabama, after a courageous battle with cancer. He met his final challenge as he met all previous ones, with sisu, strong faith, and good humor.

Judge Mikkola was born on June 16, 1944, in Hancock, the son of Oliver and Gertrude (Liimatta) Mikkola. He was a graduate of Dollar Bay High School, Ferris State College, and Detroit College of Law.

On June 10, 1967, he and his high school sweetheart, Mary Lee (Kettenbeil) were married. They lived and raised their children in Houghton, until retirement when they moved to Hancock.

At the age of 15, he was on the Dollar Bay VFW junior hockey team that won the national championship in Colorado Springs, Colo., and he enjoyed telling stories of that memorable time. He remained a lifelong fan of hockey.

John’s professional career began with the law firm of Wisti and Jaaskelainen in Hancock, where he practiced law for several years until he opened a law practice with his partner, Don R. Hiltunen. In 1983 John was elected Probate Judge and served the people of Houghton County for twenty years.

John was a former member of the Hancock Lions Club, Hancock Elks, and a lifelong member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, where he taught Sunday School for a time.

He enjoyed the outdoors, hunting at the family deer camp, fishing and boating on Isle Royale, traveling, and since retirement, winters on the Gulf Coast of Alabama where he and Mary walked miles along the beach, collecting seashells and sand dollars. Above all, he treasured time with his family. He and Mary traveled many miles cross country to be with their children and grandchildren.

Predeceasing him were his parents; and dear nephews, David and Jason Mikkola.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lee and their daughter, Laura Lee (Christopher) Norris and their children Avery, Christian, Matthew, and Zachary, of San Jose, Calif.; and their son, John Oliver (Christine) Mikkola and their children Jack, Ethan, and Grace, of Amherst, N.H.; his two brothers, Melvyn (Judy) Mikkola and Ronald (Mary Beth) Mikkola both of Hancock; and his sister, Carol (Charles) Streicher of Houghton; as well as many nieces and nephews, in-laws, and close friends.

At the request of the deceased, cremation has taken place and there will be a private family service in Alabama. In early summer of 2014, there will be a memorial service at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, Pastor D. J. Rasner to officiate.

In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, please consider memorials to Gloria Dei or to the charity of one’s choice.

To view John’s obituary or to send condolences to his family please visit

The Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Hancock is assisting the family with the local arrangements.