Donald Charles Myntti, 98, of Duluth, passed away on April 23, 2022 at Marywood Residence (Benedictine Living Community) on the College de Sainte-Scholastique campus, surrounded by his loving family. He was born to Charles and Laura (Järvinen) Myntti in Chisholm, MN on August 11, 1923 and grew up in Ely.
Don’s life, until the end, was animated by his “legacy values”, those which were dearest to him and which he wished to pass on to his children:
work hard, do your best and earn everyone’s respect; making his wife and children the center of his world; to nurture his lifelong friendships; follow his passion to see and know the world as a globetrotter and as a lifelong learner; choose optimism; to feed his insatiable curiosity; practicing gratitude for exceeding all expectations and for his happy and healthy life; to celebrate his lifelong attachment to the Iron Range and its people; and finally, to appreciate its Finnish roots and values.
Donald spoke exclusively Finnish at home until he started school at the age of seven. He described his childhood in Ely and his summers at Co-op Point on Eagles Nest Lake (spent among Finnish families of co-operators and iron ore miners) as “perfect”. During his summers throughout his high school and college years, Don was happiest lost in the BWCA paddling with his best friend, Sig Olson, (Jr.). Immediately after graduating from Ely Memorial High School in 1941, Don and Sig set off for a memorable month in the boundary waters without packing much food, if any, fully convinced that they could catch, hunt and gather. enough to stay alive. They continued to paddle together as canoe guides each summer in college for Border Lakes Outfitters outside of Winton.
Don attended Ely Junior College for a year, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1945. He also graduated from the USNR Midshipman School at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
He married Rita J. Beron on November 26, 1947 at St. Rose Catholic Church in Proctor MN. During their married life, Don and Rita had five children and moved 25 times, criss-crossing the United States after Don’s mining and naval careers. Don and Rita decided to return to their beloved Northwoods & Lake Superior, retiring to Duluth in 1991.
Don was employed for 40 years by several major mining companies: Oliver Iron Mining Company (Minnesota), Kennecott Copper Corporation (Utah), Amax Coal Company (Indiana) and Exxon Minerals Company (New York City & Texas), and two major contractors . : Western Contracting Corporation (Iowa) and Morrison Knudsen Corporation (Idaho). This was followed by 20 years of international consulting. He has been recognized as a global mining equipment expert with assignments in Inner Mongolia, Mauritania, Chile, Colombia, Canada, Jordan, Puerto Rico and Alaska. He was a registered professional engineer in Minnesota, Utah and Idaho.
Don proudly served in the United States Navy during WWII and the Korean War, retiring as a Lieutenant Commander – USNR. His passion for ships was legendary.
Its members included the Kitchi Gammi Club (Duluth), Society of Mining Engineers (SME), Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Legion Post 342, Gitche Gumee Kiwanis Club, Propeller Club, and Engineers Club of Northern Minnesota (ECNM). He was also a lifetime member of the National Mining Hall of Fame, Leadville CO, and an active participant in UMD’s University for Seniors program.
Don and Rita have traveled extensively throughout their lives in the United States and have visited 65 countries. When he was over 80, he realized his dream of visiting Petra in Jordan and the Taj Mahal in India. Even at the end of his life, Don was “planning” one last travel adventure to France and China, believing he had one last trip in him.
Donald was predeceased by his wife of nearly 72 years, Rita, his parents and his sister, Mrs. Paul (Ona) Prola. His survivors include four daughters: Dr. Cynthia Myntti (Dr. Bert Hirschhorn), Minneapolis MN; Valerie Myntti (Frank Sherman), Ely MN; Andrea Myntti-Groom (Michael Groom), Mabank TX; Laura Myntti (Michael Croak), Madison WI; one son: Charles Myntti, Tbilisi, Georgia, one brother: Steven Myntti, Minneapolis MN; and several nieces and nephews, including John Prola, Richfield MN; 7 grandchildren: Patrick Groom, Agatha Myntti Venters, Rebekah Sherman-Myntti, Ivie Myntti, Kirsi Myntti, Beron Selkregg and Mills Selkregg; and great-grandchildren, Charles and Arthur Venters.
The Myntti family would like to thank the loving staff at Marywood for providing Don with excellent and dedicated care, while maintaining his dignity and independence. The family would like to congratulate Mark Wiita of St Luke’s Community Care Team and his palliative care nurses for the compassionate care they gave Don at the end.
A family funeral service will be held at the cemetery at a later date. Arrangements have been made by the Cremation Society of Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to UMD University for Seniors, Development Office, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, MN 55812 to honor Don’s commitment to lifelong learning, or to the Mayo Clinic, Department of Development, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905 in appreciation for the excellent care Don received throughout his long life.
Please remember Don for a moment the next time you have the pleasure of taking a hot sauna followed by a jump in an invigorating northern Minnesota lake or a picnic on the shore of the Lake Superior!