Carl A. Pekkala

Carl A. Pekkala, 93, of Grass Range, Montana, “Whistling Carl,” was called home on April 23, 2017. 

He was born on Aug. 2, 1923 in Redridge, Michigan, the son of Emil and Tyyni (Holme) Pekkala.  As a young boy, his family moved near Detroit where he lived until he enlisted into the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18. While training in Lewistown, Montana, he visited the Civic Center for a night of roller skating. He winked at a cute brunette, Mary Kuhry. She heard on the loud speaker, “ladies’ choice.” Mary grabbed her future husband and never let go.  

He was soon shipped away, for his tour of duty as a B17 waist gunner in WWII. He flew 50 missions over North Africa and Italy, and received the Purple Heart and Bronze star. When he returned from active duty, Carl and Mary were married in Mountain Home, Idaho on Jan. 8, 1943. 

They eventually settled in Lewistown, in a shack he turned into a home. He worked at the gypsum plant at Heath for around 20 years. In 1950, they bought 35 acres below the Elks Country Club on Spring Creek. They started Pine Hill Dairy and sold raw milk until 1973. 

In 1974, they moved to the Kuhry ranch outside of Grass Range, Montana, which was homesteaded by Mary’s dad. They always said they discovered paradise on that land, and two happier people could not have been found. During the busy years, his children were his priority. He taught them to value hard work, honesty, faith and integrity. He made sure Christmas’s were magical with the house and the tree decorated just right. He made sure the skating pond was always clear during the winter for skating parties that included all the neighbors. 

Strength and hardworking barely describe him. He built every shed and barn, and remodeled every house (to fit all those kids), building his last home at age 73. At the age of 88, he still was throwing rake teeth on every corner of every hay field, helping Mark and Karen with haying. Until his last breath, you knew Carl was close because your ears were serenaded with his welcoming whistle or song.

He leaves behind his wife of 73 years, Mary Pekkala of Grass Range; children Linda (John) Birkeland of Billings, Keith (Anna) Pekkala of Phoenix, Ariz., Kathy Lindh of Tucson, Ariz., Mike of Emigrant, Mont., Christine Mueller of San Rafael, Calif., Teresa (Herb) Hastings of Helena, Mont., Karen (Mark) Matovich of Grass Range, Mont., Kim (Jim) DeArman Tulsa, Okla.; sister Ruth Kaski; and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Carl was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers, five sisters, two sons -- Daniel and Mark -- and grandson Christopher Birkeland.

The family would like to invite you to the celebration of Carl’s life Friday April 28, at 3 pm in the Methodist Church Grass Range, with inurnment to follow in the Grass Range Cemetery. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family.  

Friends are asked to make memorials to the Central Montana Hospice House, Grass Range Ambulance or Grass Range Methodist Church, and they may be left at the Cloyd Funeral Home.  Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.

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