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Raili Anneli Diels

Raili Anneli Diels passed away peacefully on Memorial Day 2019 surrounded by her loved ones. The daughter of Viljo Harkonen and Aune Polkas (Talvio), Raili was born in Viipuri, Finland on August 12, 1932. She and her family immigrated to the United States in 1947 as war refugees, settling in the Detroit area.

Throughout her life Raili embodied the Finnish concept of SISU, a temperament characterized by grit, tenacity, and determination. Raili built a successful career as an accountant at Excello/Cadillac Gauge. Raili proudly raised four successful children as a single mother with the help of her mother and the support of friends and family. Among Raili’s greatest joys in life were art, painting, dancing, international travel, family reunions, and summers spent Up North in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Raili was deeply proud of her Finnish heritage. She returned to her homeland several times throughout her life, she was an avid reader of the Finnish newspaper, she had an eye for Scandinavian design, and she passed down stories of Finland to her children and grandchildren. She will be remembered for her compassion, her determination, and her smile.

Raili’s legacy lives on through her brother (John Harkonen), her four children, Linda Glick (husband Stephen), Karen Hettler (husband Neil), Eric Nelson (wife Karen Scoggins), and Mark Nelson (wife Kim Cassim), her twelve grandchildren, one great grandchild, and her extended family and dear friends.

A private family memorial celebration of Raili’s life will be held at a later date in Michigan.  Please visit to leave the family an online condolence.

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  • Virginia Lopez says:

    I sure will miss Raili as being a true and steadfast friend. I had known her for over sixty years and enjoyed many fun times together. My thoughts, prayers and love are with the family at this difficult time

  • Paavo & Nancy Nurmi says:

    Our sympathy to you all on the loss of your mom. She was a friend from St. John’s and the Finnish Center. She was a really nice gal. Gods peace.

  • Jessica Battaglia says:

    Dear Diels family,
    I am so sorry for your great loss. Our loving Creator promises us a time in the near future when mourning, outcry, pain, and even death itself will be no more. (Rev. 21:4). I hope this thought will bring you some solace as you grieve. To receive additional information and comfort from the Bible, please visit My deepest condolences.

  • Carol Cooper & Rochelle Cooper Kowalski says:

    Sorry for your loss.We had lot of good times on Trinity Street. I use to talk to your Mom on the Phone.Take czre.

  • Cheryl says:

    I am very sad and sorry to hear about your mom, Raili. I was touched by her kind and soft spirit at Middleton. Her sweet smile was a gift to others. God bless all of you during this hard time. Hugs and prayers!

  • John Harkonen says:


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