Paul R. Niemi

Paul R. Niemi

Fitchburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 6 Mar 2016 (aged 73)
Gardner, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Fitchburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 159360389 · View Source
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Paul R. Niemi, of Fitzwilliam, NH, passed away on March 6, 2016 at Heywood Hospital in Gardner, MA. He was born on October 24, 1942 in Fitchburg, MA, the second child of Eugene Niemi and Helen Hill (Peramaki).

Paul was raised by his mother and his maternal grandmother, Maria Paavola, both immigrants from Finland. Finnish and English were spoken in the home, so Paul was bilingual from an early age. At that time Fitchburg had one of the largest populations of Finns outside of Finland, so Paul grew up surrounded by Finnish friends, language and culture, and each remained important to him throughout his life.

When Paul was 10 years old he began working for the Raivaaja, the Finnish-American newspaper in Fitchburg. He would continue to work there until he graduated from college.

Paul attended Academy Street Elementary School, B. F. Brown Junior High School and Fitchburg High School. While a sophomore at FHS he won the biology award, earning top honors in the subject out of a class of more than 300 students. Paul graduated from FHS in 1960 and married Norma Seymour that summer at the Fitchburg Seventh-day Adventist Church. Their first child, Paul Jr., was born the following year. They would have four more children over the next 12 years.

Paul enrolled at Atlantic Union College in the fall of 1960. He graduated in 1964 with a B.S. in Engineering Physics and a minor in Mathematics. In 1965 he obtained a teaching fellowship at Lowell Technological Institute and began taking classes toward a Master of Science degree in Mathematics, which he earned in 1968.

That fall, Paul was offered the position of Associate Professor in the Mathematics and Physics department of Ferrum Junior College in Ferrum, VA. For several years while there, he and his family lived on an 89-acre farm. Paul relished the quiet tranquility of country living in Ferrum, and in later years he spoke fondly of the time spent there.

In September 1973 the Niemi family returned to Fitchburg and moved into the home on Marshall Street where Paul had been raised, making his children the 4th generation of his family to have lived there.

Paul began taking classes toward a Doctor of Optometry degree at the New England College of Optometry. During the four years that he studied there full-time, he worked a number of jobs on the side in order to provide for his family. He graduated with his Doctor of Optometry degree (O.D.) in 1978.

Over the next 26 years Paul worked for a number of companies -- including Raytheon, General Electric, Wang Laboratories, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Compaq and Hewlett Packard -- as a consultant writer, senior software engineer, senior technical writer, and principal software writer.

One of the high points of Paul’s life occurred in the late 1980s when he and his brother, Gene, took their mother on a two week trip to Finland, to meet many of their relatives, both young and old, and tour the countryside.

In September of 2001 Paul realized his dream of returning to the country when he and Norma moved to Fitzwilliam, NH. In the fall of 2004 he fulfilled another dream of his -- to return to teaching -- by being hired by Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH, where he taught Calculus, Physics and other classes. He would continue to teach at FPU for the remainder of his life.

Paul had a longstanding interest in physical culture, and for most of his adult life he weightlifted regularly. For many years he trained in the basement "gym" of the Marshall Street home with his close friend, Antti Arjanen. Paul was fortunate to meet some of the legends of the "iron game," such as Boyer Coe, Paul Anderson, Charles Atlas, John Grimek and Bill Pearl.

Paul was an inveterate reader and often had a book, newspaper or magazine in hand. He had a special way with children, and at family gatherings and other social events he often entertained them.

Paul was a devoted "family man." More than anything, he enjoyed being with his family, sharing meals and celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with them. He was a prolific correspondent, sending numerous messages weekly -- whether by email, postcard, letter or package -- to family and friends.

Paul loved vacationing in Maine with his wife. Several times each year they would visit Old Orchard Beach, Wells or York. Their most recent trip to Maine took place in January 2016 when they stayed at Wells Beach for several days.

Paul leaves his wife of 55 years, Norma (Seymour); son Paul Jr.; son Scott, his wife Nancy (Lehto), their sons Andrew and Jonathan; son Todd, his wife Adelaida (Rosca), their children Isabella and Tristan; daughter Rebecca Sutcliffe, her husband David, their son Loki; son Erin; brother Eugene Niemi Jr., his wife Evelyn Grace-Niemi; sisters-in-law Beverly Lance (Seymour) and Connie Seymour; brother-in-law Daniel Seymour, his wife Sue; half-brother Martin; half-sisters Michaelene, Judy and Jean-Marie; five nephews; four nieces; close friends Reino and Shirley Maki; close friend Esko Arjanen, his daughters Liisa and Tiina; close friend Dan MacDonald. Paul was predeceased by his parents, his sister-in-law Margaret Niemi (Johnson), brothers-in-law David Seymour and Clyde Lance, and close friend Antti Arjanen.

The funeral service and burial will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers his family asks that contributions be made in his memory to charities or institutions that were close to his heart, such as The Paul Anderson Youth Home (Vidalia, GA), St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, TN), Smile Train (New York, NY), Boys Town (Boys Town, NE), Ferrum College (Ferrum, VA) and Franklin Pierce University (Rindge, NH).

Paul's family extends their deep, heartfelt thanks to everyone who has helped to comfort them as they grieve. His memory will be treasured by his family and friends, who love and miss him very much.

[The above obit was published in the Sentinel & Enterprise on 3/20/2016.]

A memorial service for Paul was held on April 10, 2016 at 2 PM at the Fitchburg Seventh-day Adventist church (205 Summer Street), the same church where Paul and Norma were married nearly 56 years earlier. It was well attended by family members, friends, colleagues and students of Paul's. People came from places as far away as Virginia, Texas and Australia in order to honor his memory. Attendees included Andrew Card, the president of Franklin Pierce University, where Paul taught for the last 13 years of his life. It took more than an hour for the attendees to pass through the receiving line and extend their condolences to Paul's family. The memorial service was followed by a reception in the church fellowship hall.

A graveside burial service for Paul was held on December 21, 2018. Officiating at the service was Pastor Einar Rom of the Fitchburg Seventh-day Adventist church. In attendance were Paul's close family members.

Family Members

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  • Created by: Todd Niemi
  • Added: 12 Mar 2016
  • Find A Grave Memorial 159360389
  • Todd Niemi
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Paul R. Niemi (24 Oct 1942–6 Mar 2016), Find A Grave Memorial no. 159360389, citing Forest Hill Cemetery, Fitchburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Todd Niemi (contributor 48176851) .