THREE RIVERS, MI – Jack I. Niemi, age 52, former Ishpeming resident and currently of Three Rivers, MI, passed away at his home on Friday, May 10, 2019, after a long battle with cancer. He had been under the care of his family and Three Rivers Homecare and Hospice.
Jack was born in Ishpeming on December 12, 1966, to Toivo (“Jake”) and Eleanore (Heikkila) Niemi. Growing up, he spent long days fishing, hunting, playing hockey, riding his motorbike in the woods and attending Lutheran Church services on Sunday with his family. Jack was a popular and outgoing student, and at Westwood High School in Ishpeming, served on the student council and as class vice president before his graduation in 1985.
Jack enlisted in the Navy after high school and served three years on active duty with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion One, the “Seabees.” He rose to the rank of petty officer third class and deployed for missions to Japan, Scotland and Liberia. During his Navy career, Jack was often recognized by superiors for his hard work and exceptional performance. “EOCN Niemi has earned my trust and respect,” wrote his Seabee commander in a commendation letter. “He has shown personal and professional initiative rarely seen by a sailor at his level.”
After leaving the military, Jack earned a certificate in wastewater management from N.M.U. He went on to work as an operations manager for Infrastructure Alternatives, Inc., and started and managed several wastewater treatment plants in southern Michigan, including White Pigeon, Mottville and Marcellus. In 2015 – despite recovering from brain surgery – Jack scored 94 percent on his final exam to earn another wastewater treatment certificate from California State University, Sacramento.
From his teen years on, Jack’s abiding avocation was his passion for rock and roll music. In Ishpeming, he and his brother, Jason, played for years in the band Menace. Until his late 40s, Jack performed regularly in clubs and bars around Three Rivers. On long weekend nights, with a green Fender Stratocaster guitar slung across his shoulder, Jack would sing ’80s and southern country rock standards with local bands such as Yellow, Mystimeanor and Tangent.
But above all, Jack’s greatest joy came from his family. He is survived by his wife Debra Niemi of Three Rivers; his mother, Eleanore Niemi of Ishpeming; three children, Abby Niemi, Three Rivers; Tucker Niemi, Three Rivers; son Jack Niemi, Jr. Three Rivers; three sisters, Jean (Mike) Werth, Appleton, WI; Donna Wetts, Appleton; Sonia (Pete) Lapin, Champion, MI; four brothers Steve (Jana) Niemi, Appleton, WI; Greg (Kris) Niemi, Kalamazoo, MI; Jason (Michelle) Niemi, Ishpeming; Kurtis Niemi, Ishpeming; two step-daughters, Amanda Therese (Nicodemus) Ford, Sacramento, CA; and Tonni (Joseph) Vandoorne, Detroit, MI; three grandsons, Armani, Brayden and Montrel Niemi, all of Three Rivers; one granddaughter, Morgan Chapman of Detroit; along with several nieces and nephews. Jack is preceded in death by his father Toivo “Jake” Niemi.
The family will greet relatives and friends from 11:00am – 1:00pm on Thursday, May 16, 2019 at the Bjork & Zhulkie Funeral Home, 400 N. Third St. Ishpeming, MI. Funeral services will be held at 1:00pm on Thursday at Bjork & Zhulkie with the Rev. Lauri O. Maki to officiate. Interment will take place at the Ishpeming Cemetery where Military Honors will be accorded. A luncheon will follow at the Bethel Lutheran Church.
Jack’s obituary may also be viewed at bjorkandzhulkie. com where relatives and friends may leave a note of remembrance.