Susan Marie Saari-Karasti died at home in Winton, MN, on Saturday, March 3, 2018, having just completed her 76th journey around the Sun, after her long struggle with the mental and physical deteriorations caused by dementia.
Susan was born in Ely, Minnesota on March 3, 1942, where she and her family lived on “Finn Hill” until they moved to Los Angeles when she was 9. They lived in Torrance where Susan most loved spending time on the beach and in the Ocean. Every summer, Susan, her mother and brother would return to Minnesota for extended visits. Susan graduated from Torrance High School and from Pacific Lutheran University in the state of Washington, after which she taught high school English in the LA area.
In 1962, Susan answered President Kennedy’s call for volunteers and served in the Peace Corps in northern Nigeria. During one break, she went to Europe and then returned to Nigeria by way of joining a truck caravan crossing the Sahara Desert. Later, she traveled more in Europe and lived for a couple of years in Greece where she privately taught English.
After returning to the States, Susan lived in the San Francisco area where she worked at various jobs and also learned how to weave and spin yarn at Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts. She also returned as often as she could to Ely during the summers and she would help her cousin Norman Saari build his resort on Tofte Lake. In 1976, Susan packed everything she owned into her Volkswagen Bug – except her loom, which she shipped – and returned to live in Ely where she bought her grandfather’s old shoe repair shop building and turned it into her home and Sisu Designs Weaving and Yarn Shop, which she operated until she sold it in December 2013. Although it started as a weaving shop, it evolved into being primarily a knitting and yarn shop, and an important part of her business included hosting fall and winter knitting retreats, both locally and in New Mexico, for many years. In the early days of developing her weaving business, Susan met Carl Karasti and they married in 1980.
Through all of her years, Susan especially loved to sauna, to swim and to dance. In 1992 she and Carl joined with several others to create the still active Thursday Evening Group which is open to teachings of all spiritual paths and dedicated to celebrating and exploring the questions of the Great Mystery of Life. They have both also been active members of the Inayati Sufi Order and participants in the Dances of Universal Peace for which Carl is a certified leader.
Susan was preceded in death by her parents, Fred and Lillian (Haapala) Saari and by her brother, Fred Saari. She is survived by her husband of 38 years, Carl Karasti, her daughter, Anna Karasti, her grandson, Jacob Karasti, all of Winton, and by her sister-in-law, Dorothy Saari of Walled Lake, MI, her sister-in-law, Linda Beek of South St. Paul, MN, and by her uncle Bob Haapala of Ely, and by many cousins and wonderful friends.
A celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
There will be a private scattering of ashes.