John A. Mikkola

HANCOCK – Honorable John A. Mikkola, 69, a resident of Hancock and retired Houghton County Probate and Family Court Judge, died 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 back 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, Colorado, 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 20 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 at 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 parents 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, California; and their son, John Oliver (Christine) Mikkola and their children, Jack, Ethan and Grace of Amherst, New Hampshire; 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.

A Celebration of life and memorial service for Hon. John A. Mikkola will be held on Saturday, June 28, 2014 at 11 a.m. at Gloria Dei.

Friends may call on Saturday, June 28, 2014 from 10 a.m. until time of services at the church.

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 of Hancock is assisting the family with the local arrangements.