William E. Kokko Sr.
William E. Kokko, Sr passed away peacefully in the presence of family on Sunday, May 1st at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, NH. Mr. Kokko was born at home on June 16, 1922, the youngest son of Finnish immigrants Matti and Hilja (Isosalo) Kokko of Milford, NH. He was a life-long resident and active citizen of Milford, graduating from Milford High School in 1940 and attending vocational training in Nashua as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps program. Trained in machining, he secured a position with Pratt & Whitney of Hartford, Connecticut. He entered the US Army in January of 1942. In the revamped auto factories of Flint, Michigan, he was trained as an aircraft maintenance technician for the US Army Air Corps and achieved the rank of Sergeant. Mr. Kokko was ultimately stationed in Watton, England at the 3rd Strategic Air Depot with the 8th Air Force, maintaining and repairing B24 bombers. Mr. Kokko prepared and participated in the launching of aircraft from England as part of the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).
After returning from the war, Mr. Kokko worked in the emerging refrigeration industry before joining his father and brother in forming a construction business, Kokko Builders, in 1950. The family business continues today in the hands of his eldest son. In 1950, Mr. Kokko also met and married his wife of 60 years, Ruth Theresa (Pfund) Kokko. Together, they raised three children and rebuilt the farmhouse where they remained for their lifetimes. Mr. Kokko served as a volunteer Conservation District Supervisor with the federal Soil Conservation Service from 1961-1979, participated as a member of the building committee for the first Milford High School building on West Street, co-founded the Milford Conservation Commission and followed his father as a Director on the Board of the Milford Cooperative Bank.
Mr. Kokko and his wife travelled the United States and Canada extensively in their travel trailer. In his late years, he focused on his farm and woodlands. He enjoyed planning his garden each spring and providing prepared garden space for those who wished to use his land as an informal "community garden." In concert with his siblings, Mr. Kokko worked to preserve and pass his knowledge of Finnish heritage, Town of Milford & WWII history to his family and others. After getting his first computer at age 80, he used the internet to stay informed about world events, research plant and equipment purchases and nurture strong connections to his Finnish relatives and many acquaintances from his travels. Even as his health declined, Mr. Kokko became a popular patient with his pleasant demeanor, strong sense of determination and active, inquiring mind.
Mr. Kokko was predeceased by his parents, siblings and wife. He is survived by his three children and their spouses – William E. Kokko Jr and his wife Patricia; Robert F. Kokko and his wife Stephanie; Elizabeth M. (Kokko) Banister and her husband William, all of Milford. – and his nephew Richard E. Kokko and his wife Theresa of Chesapeake, VA. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and their respective spouses – Katherine E. Kokko of Milford, NH; Carolyn M. Kokko and her fiancé Matthew G. Soucy of Ithaca, NY; Andrea M. (Kokko) Chappell and her husband Duane of Milford; Christina R. (Kokko) Andonopoulos and her husband George of Redondo Beach, CA; Rachel M. (Kokko) Chidsey and her husband Edward of New York, NY; Stephanie C. Kokko of DelRay Beach, Florida; Caleb N. Banister of Dover, NH; and William M. Banister and his wife, Lindsay (Taflas) of Jaffrey, NH. In addition, Mr. Kokko leaves his great-niece, Diane V. Kokko and her husband Gregory Dudley of Norfolk, VA and his great-nephew Steven Kokko of Philadelphia, PA, eight great-grandchildren, two great-great-nieces, many extended family members in Finland and the expectation of a ninth great-grandchild. .A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, May 7th from 1:00-4:00 p.m. in The Barn at Hitchiner Manufacturing Company, 117 Old Wilton Road, Milford, NH. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Milford Ambulance Service or to the Milford Conservation Commission. Arrangements are in the care of Smith & Heald Funeral Home, 63 Elm Street, Milford. To share a memory or offer a condolence, please go to www.smith-heald.com.