Obituary of Ricard Reino Puumala
Ricard Reino Puumala, 88, died peacefully August 19, 2023, at Interfaith Care Center, Carlton, MN. He was born July 23, 1935 in Chicago, IL to Drs. Reino and Marie Bepko Puumala. Growing up in Cloquet, he was active in Debate, Thespians, band (trombone) and orchestra (violin), and Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He graduated from Cloquet High School in 1952 as a National Merit Scholar, then went on to the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis for his undergraduate and Medical Doctor degrees, including election to Phi Beta Kappa. He married his medical school classmate Barbara Meyer on September 20, 1958 in Nerstrand, MN in the fall of their senior year. After graduation, he and his wife joined his parents practicing general medicine at the Puumala Clinic in Cloquet, MN. He took 2 years off to be an Army Medical Captain at Fort Sheridan IL 1962-64.
Ricard loved medicine, from attending high school games as a team physician, pushing for the Cloquet hospital to be built, participating in Duluth and state medical societies, collaborating with the members of the Fond-du-Lac Indian Reservation medical community, and being Carlton County coroner for 40 years. He enjoyed most the time he spent with his patients, talking with them and caring for them. He was an associate professor at UMD Medical School and taught many medical students, including some third-year students who spent their entire third year with him.
His love of and commitment to medicine was recognized with many awards. Together with his family, he won the Harold S. Diehl award from the University of Minnesota in 1972. In 1996, the Minnesota Academy of Family Practice named him Physician of the Year. The Lake Superior Medical Society named him Duluth Physician of the Year. He left his legacy proudly in his students and his communities. He was an active member of the American Academy of Family Practice and the Minnesota Academy of Family Practice.
Ricard loved the outdoors, avidly fishing – “locally” as he said when asked about his favorite spots and at his beloved Lake Aerobus in Ontario – hunting his family’s land, watching birds, and capturing much of it with his camera. If a man was in someone’s backyard, picking their mushrooms, they knew that “it’s Doc Puumala”. He was a member of Ducks Unlimited, the Ruffed Grouse Society, and the NRA. He loved classical music, art, and reading.
Ricard was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 58 years Barbara, sister Kathleen Gawboy, brothers Mark and Dale, and nephew Galen Gawboy.
Ricard is survived by by his sisters Nancy Luomala, Dierre Puumala; his children Victoria (Timothy) Heren, Michael (Jennifer) Puumala, Laura (Timothy) Berdahl, Matthew (Susan) Puumala; grandchildren Sanna and Karin Berdahl, Thomas Heren, Eric and Daniel Puumala, Soren and Helen Puumala, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Visitation 5-8 p.m. Friday August 25 and Funeral Service 11 a.m. Saturday August 26, both
at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church 615 12th St, Cloquet. Burial will be at Hillcrest Cemetery at a later date. Ric’s family asks that any charitable donations in his honor be directed to Cloquet Education Foundation Ricard and Barbara Puumala Family Fund https://ccmhfoundation.com/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org or the UMD Medical School Rural Physicians Associate Program (RPAP) fund https://med.umn.edu/about/alumni or the Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital Foundation http://email@example.com.To sign the guest book and leave an online tribute, visit www.atkinsnorthlandfuneralhome.com.
The Dr. Reino Puumala Scholarship
The scholarship is awarded annually to one or two second year students who most embody the spirit, attitude and personal characteristics of the ideal family physician, in honor of Dr. Reino Puumala who passed away after serving Cloquet, MN for many years.
For those who may like to make a gift to the scholarship, gifts may be made out to UMF and sent to:
Elizabeth Simonson, Director of Development
University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus
University of Minnesota Foundation
1035 University Drive, Suite 169B
Duluth, MN 55812-3031
To make a gift online please go to: Dr. Reino Puumala Scholarship
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