Maenpaa, Wilhard “Willy” Y.

October 23, 1938 - April 13, 2021

He is survived by his wife, Dace (Grasis) Maenpaa, his son and daughter, James Maenpaa (Michele), and Deborah Maier (David), his grandchildren, Aaron Maenpaa (Nathalie), and Cleo Maier, Jessica Maenpaa (predeceased), and his great-grandchild Alexander Maenpaa.  And not to forget nieces and nephews, Ellen, Sam, Kaija, Kalen, Elaine, David, Dianne, and their children. His passing was sudden.  He had relented and saw a doctor because of a persistent cough. The diagnosis led to an X-ray, and then a CAT scan April 1.  He was admitted to the hospital for palliative care April 3 with a diagnosis of cancer and he passed April 13, 2021. Willy and Dace were friendly hosts and welcomed everyone.  Dace's siblings and siblings’ friends were always welcome as were the friends of James and Deborah.  Despite the chaos he would take everyone fishing. He would tie lines, hook bait, land fish, release fish, and clean fish.  Summer or Winter anyone was welcome. His enthusiasm for his sports included introducing and teaching others. He hunted from the age of fourteen until last Fall at the age of 82. And he was successful, he lost count of the deer after 116, there were many moose (22?), and a dozen or so bear. (He rhymed this off so often it went in one ear an out the other.) Willy was born in St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the paperwork to document his birth was filled out by the efforts of his mother who didn't speak English, his 4-year-old sister, and a French nun.  It took a very creative clerk in the records department to find his birth certificate when he needed it for travel. He was told his name would be "Willy" with a "Y" by older girls on his first day of school and the name stuck. He played football in the Sudbury Tech Blue Devils the year they made it to the All Ontario. He didn't make it; his leg was broken playing against North Bay. He met Dace Grasis when she was sixteen and he was seventeen.  They married two years later, July 26, 1958. He was picked out of a general call for workers because Dace insisted, he bring his grade 12 diploma and it was sticking out of his shirt pocket.  The manager saw it, asked about it and hired him. He started working in the Copper Cliff Smelter at Inco 1959.  Willy worked at Inco for 30 years. He worked at the Copper Cliff Smelter, Crean Hill Mine, South Mine, and Creighton.  He got a cover of the Inco Triangle for using his hunting bow underground to reconnect a broken line that crossed from one side of the mine shaft to the other.  As safety foreman he brought Crean Hill's safety record out the dumps and take the All-Mine Standing for Safety in 1977.  He also got the “1980 Creighton Mine Safety Awards, Operating Division II". Willy lived for the outdoors.  His dad loved fishing and when Willy was twelve his dad, Arvi Maenpaa, declared he was old enough to come along. He got to row the boat. Later when his dad and his dad's fishing partner purchased a three horse Johnson outboard, he got to drive that.  He learned a lot about reading the shoreline. Nevertheless, his father recognized the outdoor bug and introduced Willy to hunting friends of his and they took him deer hunting.  Being 6 feet tall he bought his first permit at 14, then 15, and finally 16 by which time the clerk issuing permits recognized him. He discovered Beaver Lake when his father found him a job as a farm hand with Eino and Sylvie Maki. He made friends with the Manninen's and the other men of Beaver Lake. The family moved to Beaver Lake in Sept. 1961; they bought the place in 1967. He caught the Salmon bug in 1981 when Edwin Nauha dragged him to Manitoulin Island to fish in the Mindamoya River.  He was fuming quietly fishing shoulder to shoulder with other people when a giant fish leaped out of the river splashing him and went racing down the river on another person's line.  He moved to the island, first renting a trailer spot in the park, and then buying a property and building a house in Providence Bay. If you wish donations to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, or the Cancer Society would be appreciated.


5 Condolences

  1. James and Michele, our heartfelt condolences with your loss of Father and Father-in-law. I remember hearing stories of your parents when you first were dating and later being married. You spoke fondly about your visits to them, and the family / friendly gatherings there. We hope your happy memories can be a calm to you in the coming months. Thinking of you, and wishing you peace at this time.
    Fred and Michael.

    By: Fred Verboom and Michael Mitchell
    May 20, 2021
  2. Dear, Dace, James and Michele and family and Deborah and family.
    Deepest condolences to everyone on the passing of a husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend to many. We remember him for his warm welcome, bear hugs, fishing trips and games of euchre. His warm smile and laugh lit up the room. May you know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Ted and Ruth Storey and family

    By: Ted and Ruth Storey
    May 19, 2021
  3. Our sincere sympathies with loss of you Dad. He sounds like an amazing man- I am sure there is a book there waiting to be written, recalling his many adventures. Our thoughts are with you.
    Great memories live on.
    Bonnie and Mike Martin

    By: Bonnie Martin
    May 19, 2021
  4. James and Michele, Aaron, Nathalie, Alex and Dace
    My deepest condolences in the loss of Willy. He always seemed bigger than life, so sorry that he died so quickly and unexpectedly. His obituary is so Willy. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all. Hugs and love from Mary and Brian

    By: Mary Boland (Stewart)
    May 18, 2021
  5. Dear Dace, Deborah and James–You have been in my thoughts for some time now since I heard of Willy’s death. I have fond memories of Willy at those Christmas Eve celebrations at the Grasis’s home, and of my visits to the farm. I enjoyed hearing about his birdwatching adventures the last time I saw him. What will I remember Willy for? The best bearhugs ever. I am so very sorry for your loss. Heartfelt condolences to you and your families and Willy’s friends.

    By: Sandy Siren
    May 18, 2021

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