It is with heavy hearts that the family of Reijo Puiras announce his passing on Friday August 4, 2017, at home, surrounded by his wife and children.
Reijo was a warm-hearted, gregarious and generous person who enjoyed spending time with his family and his many friends. His numerous interests included a love of sport, especially cross country skiing, constructing business deals, and organizing events, many of which have developed into long-standing traditions.
Reijo was born in Chapleau, Ontario, but soon moved to Kukonkyla, Finland, where he spent his younger years helping his parents on the family farm. When Reijo was 15 his family decided to immigrate permanently to Canada, where they settled in Island Lake. Reijo attended high school in Sudbury Ontario where he was athletic and was involved in many sports, including football. High school was where Reijo was introduced to competitive cross country skiing, which set a course for the rest of his life’s work.
Reijo worked hard to earn a spot on the Canadian National Cross Country Ski Team and enjoyed success at a local, national and international level. Some of his most notable accomplishments include competing in the 1974 World Cross-Country Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden and in the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. He was also very proud to be a 10-time City of Thunder Bay cross country ski champion.
In 1975, Reijo moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario where he married the love of his life, Tuija. They bought a home with some property in Lappe, where they could start a family, grow a field full of potatoes, and where Reijo decided to clear some trails for his personal training goals. These trails were the start of what eventually became the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre, and though the potato field diminished in size, the trail system grew. Reijo poured his heart into the Centre, developing a place that welcomes any level of cross country skier: a place to develop great athletes; a place that demonstrates his love of the sport. He was most proud of being able to host national and international competitions, including the World Junior Trials and the Canadian National Championships. He loved to put on a big show, and for it to go off without a hitch. In 1993 Reijo was inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.
Reijo was also a businessman. During his earlier years of intense cross country ski training, he worked in the construction business, installing siding. He soon established Exterior Finishing Ltd, a siding and windows installation company. He later owned and managed Boncor Building Products. He developed great friendships in the community of builders, and he loved to drive around to the different work sites to talk and see how the work was going.
Above all, Reijo was a man who loved his family and friends. He was fiercely proud of his wife, children and grandchildren. He loved to spend his days at the lake, sitting in the screened-in porch or cruising around on his boat, entertaining his friends and family. An important weekly highlight was connecting with his friends in the “Friday Gang”.
Reijo will be sorely missed by his wife Tuija, son Timo (Becky), daughter Susanna, grandchildren Maaritta, Emmi, Kirsti and Luukas, his brother Jarmo (Julie) and nieces Erika and Esther. He is predeceased by his sister Miriam McNaughton, his mother Alli Puiras and father Lauri Puiras.
The family would like to especially thank Dr. K. Miller, Hilkka, Stella, Lynda R., Aaron, Linda and Bill for their compassion and exceptional care. Thank you also to Tarmo for his kind words and helping hands.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday August 11, 2017 at Hilldale Lutheran Church, 321 Hilldale Rd, officiated by Pastor Jari Lahtinen. A private family service will follow for interment at Lappe Cemetery. A Legacy Fund has been established in memory of Reijo for the continued advancement of cross country skiing in Thunder Bay, cheques to be made to the Lappe Nordic Ski Centre - Reijo Puiras Legacy Fund . In lieu of flowers, donations can also be made to Hilldale Lutheran Church or a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at www.sargentandson.com