Larry C. Hoikka died peacefully at home Friday, October 26, 2018. Larry was born May 5, 1940, in Crystal Falls, Michigan, the son of Ina (Anderson) Hoikka and Joshua Jacob Hoikka. In 1958 he enrolled in the Western Michigan University Aircraft Maintenance Technology Program and earned his Airframe and Powerplant certificate in 1961. He then began repairing and inspecting airplanes for local fixed base operators. In 1962 he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and served until 1970. In 1964 Larry was united in marriage to Alberta (Birdie) Panozzo in Paw Paw, MI, and in 1965 he began working for WMU as the aviation program’s chief mechanic and maintenance supervisor. Larry earned his Bachelor’s degree from WMU and also taught classes for both pilot and mechanic students. As a student at WMU he was a member of the Sky Broncos and later he served as the precision flight team’s coach, leading it to a National Championship in 1983. He retired from WMU after 30 years of service. Larry was inducted into the WMU College of Aviation Hall of Honor in 2011 and on November 9, 2018, the 1983 Sky Broncos will be inducted into the Hall of Honor. As their advisor, Larry will be posthumously inducted, becoming the only person to be recognized twice by the College of Aviation. Larry was a member of St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Mattawan and a 3rd degree member of the Knights of Columbus, recently serving as financial secretary. He was also a member of the Kalamazoo Valley Hunting Retriever Club, serving as their equipment manager and provider of lunches for all of their hunt tests. Larry was a true craftsman, whether it was working on his Model A or constructing a log cabin in Reed City from logs he harvested from his property in Kalamazoo.
In addition to his parents, Larry was preceded in death by his sister Rhoda Dahl. Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 54 years, Birdie; sister Judy Teresa; his children, Jeff (Kari) Hoikka, Jennifer (Craig) Curtis, Julie (Jon) Heasley, and Josh (Tara Kneeshaw) Hoikka; and grandchildren Justin and Kody Hoikka, Sydney and Mackay Heasley and Avery and Marina Curtis.
Per his wishes cremation has taken place. A Funeral Mass to celebrate his life will take place on Friday, November 2, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. at St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Mattawan, MI, with Father Alan P. Jorgensen officiating. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Paw Paw, MI, followed by a luncheon in the church hall. Contributions in Larry’s memory may be made to the St. Vincent DePaul Society of St. John Bosco Church.