Marie Ann Elizabeth Oja, 80, Hermansville, passed away on September 27, 2021 at Cedar Hill Assisted Living in Bark River, MI. She was born on December 28, 1940 in Hibbing, MN, daughter of the late Oliver and Ida (Tamminen) Bispala.
Marie attended K-12 in Hibbing, MN. She always loved to sing, but her parents didn’t know the wonderful voice she had until she began to sing in the high school choir. As a youth, Marie enjoyed family gatherings, water/woods fun and taking saunas at her parents cabin on Sturgeon Lake in Side Lake, MN. Marie loved to swim as much as singing, and for a time served as a lifeguard at a camp.
Marie attended Suomi College in Hancock, MI with her cousin Sally. At Suomi, Marie sang in the choir, achieved an Associate Degree in Accounting and met her husband, Martin Oja. Marie and Martin married on January 19, 1962. In their first years of marriage they lived in various locations for Martin’s teaching career and landed in the Hermansville, Powers, MI area around 1969. Before long they moved into their big yellow house in Hermansville, where they raised five children.
Martin’s parents also had a place on a lake. While their children grew up, the Oja cottage on Portage Lake in Chassell, MI was full throughout each summer with family and friends. Mom came from a family that had several daily coffee times. At Chassell the treat with coffee was Strawberry Shortcake. On Sturgeon Lake it was often a blueberry treat baked by Grandma Bispala.
Marie was active in the Hermansville United Methodist Church (was a second home to much of the family) for about as long as she lived in Hermansville. She began with teaching young Sunday School children, then moved through the years into a whole variety of roles. Her favorites were choir, the United Methodist Women group, Pinecrest Song Service, and bringing worship recordings to shut ins, so they would not feel disconnected from the church family.
Marie was a stay at home mom and school room mother until the early 80s, when she decided to train for and take a night shift nursing position at Pinecrest Medical facility. She didn’t want to retire, because she enjoyed her job and fellowship with her co-workers.
She is survived by a sister-in-law: Roberta Bispala, brother: Ted (Jane) Bispala, sister: Margie (Robert) Workman, children: Joan Oja, Timothy (Nicole) Oja, Michael (Christy) Oja, Dan (Valerie) Oja, and Cheryl (Raymond) Hansen, grandchildren: Jacqueline Amherst-Kemps, Chandler Oja, Miranda Oja, Dylan Oja, Wyatt Oja, Olivia Oja, Matthew Oja, Nina Hansen, Violet Hansen, Breanna Oja.
Marie was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and her brother: Thomas Bispala.
Though we miss mom, now that she has passed, we are joyful with the hope she is now singing in God’s choir.
Friends may call from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. (CST) on Saturday October 2, 2021 at the United Methodist Church in Hermansville. A funeral service to celebrate the life of Marie Oja will be held at 11:00 a.m. (CST) on Saturday at church with Pastor Jeff Gagne officiating. Burial will follow services in the Meyer Township Cemetery.
The Allo Coolman Funeral Homes are assisting the Oja family.
Please visit www.allofh.com to send online condolences to her family.