Clarence ‘Vern’ Werner Pakkala was born at home on the farm on May 7th, 1931, first born to Werner and Alma Pahkala and eldest brother to Ray, Ruby, John Robert and Owen Pahkala. He grew up on the farm in Saskatchewan, after the family moved from Sudbury, Ontario and attended to Nurmi Oja School in New Finland.
He served in the Canadian Army as a gunner from July 1951 to September, 1954. He saw action in the Korean war between 1952 to 1953. After that he returned to the farm in Saskatchewan, and eventually made his way to Vancouver. Having sustained some injuries during his time in Korea, he received a military disability pension from Veterans Affairs for the rest of his lifetime.
Uncle Clarence, as he was called by his nieces and nephews, lived a relatively simple life and was close with his Auntie’s Ina and Stella in Vancouver, his brother Ray and sister Ruby and families in North Vancouver and Victoria.
Clarence was always known to be kind and happy, but didn’t like to talk too much about his days in Korea. At some point, he decided to change the spelling of his last name to Pakkala.
Uncle Clarence was a proud Finn and spoke fluently every day with his close friends and girlfriend Sylvia Kuusinen, who he was together with for many years until her death. During that time, he worked with and he and Sylvia were close to the Hamer-Jackson family.
In 2000, Clarence met the love of his life, Ester Laakso. He and Ester spent 13 wonderful years together, living in Burnaby and Coquitlam, travelling to San Francisco to visit Ester’s daughter many times, and spending time with family in the lower mainland. Ester was a renowned painter and taught Clarence to paint in water colors, they spent many hours painting, reading poetry, especially the love poems of Emily Dickinson, going on walks and listening to Finnish music.
Clarence and Ester eventually moved to the Finnish Manor and lived there happily until Ester’s death in 2013. Clarence then moved to the Finnish Independent living apartments on Harrison Drive in Vancouver. Clarence was especially close to Ester’s son Ray, who always checked on Clarence after Ester’s passing.
He had a close association to the Finnish Community in Vancouver and Burnaby. The Finnish community being small in Canada, many of the Finns knew each other, and Clarence was well known to anyone who visited or had relatives in the Finnish Manors or Care homes in the Vancouver area. He made friends easily and was a gentle soul who enjoyed his quiet life in Vancouver.
Both Clarence, Ruby and their brothers Raymond, John (Bob), and Owen had numerous cousins from New Finland, Saskatchewan. They would tell of many fond memories of the Sippola, Katajamaki, Rintamaki, and Pahkala families, of Juhannus picnics, outings to Round Lake, social gatherings with neighbors and relatives and outings at the local Finn Dance Hall.
Uncle Clarence passed away on December 3, 2019 of pneumonia while in the Burnaby hospital at age 88. Clarence Werner Pakkala was predeceased by his parents, Werner and Alma, his brother Ray Pahkala, his sister Ruby Laine (Pahkala). His younger brother John (Robert) Pahkala passed on August 25, 2021.
He is survived by his brother Owen (Carol), his nieces and nephews in BC, Alberta, and Manitoba and the USA.
Uncle Clarence was much loved by all his family and friends who knew him and is greatly missed, especially by his brother Owen, nieces and nephews Vickie, Scott, Bonnie, David, Leona and their families.