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Simo Sarkanen, of New Brighton, passed away peacefully on May 25, 2022, following a cardiac arrest.
Born in Helsinki, Finland, and raised in Birmingham, England, Simo embodied the essences of both cultures.
He received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from King’s College, Cambridge University in England. He earned his PhD in Bio-organic Chemistry from the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1981, he joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota where he embarked on solving the “Lignin Problems.” He sought to understand how lignins, the second most abundant biopolymers on Earth, are made and degraded in nature. His primary professional goal was to turn lignins into biodegradable plastics for the betterment of the environment. This decades-long goal was nearing success when he was called to the Lord.
Simo was a man of strong convictions. He was truly a Renaissance man, finding deep enjoyment in art and literature. But classical music was his true passion, which he shared with his family and friends. He especially loved to dissect music performances of composers from Bach and Beethoven to Alfred Schnittke with his exquisite mind and sharp sense of humor. In recent months, his son, Matias, became his much appreciated classical music companion.
Simo was an active member of Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis. He also loved the outdoors and traveling, an interest he shared with his wife and son. A world traveler, the Cascades, the Canadian Rockies, Lapland (Finland), the Lake District (England), Chicago, Vancouver, London, and Paris were among his favorite places. Yet, well-traveled as he was, it was everyday family life that brought Simo deepest joy.
Preceded in death by parents, Antti and Hely Sarkanen, Simo is survived by his devoted wife, Yi-ru, beloved son, Matias, and brother, John (Hazel). He will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.
Memorials are preferred over flowers and may be made in Simo’s memory to Christ Church Lutheran (christchurchluth.org) or toward a fund for Matias’ future educational needs.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Starts at 2:00pm (Central time)
Christ Church Lutheran - Minneapolis
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