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Matti Kalervo Syrja was a man whose actions spoke louder than words. He was known for an unwavering faith in Jesus Christ, a deep love and devotion for his family and friends, integrity, generosity, a clever sense of humor, compassion, and his willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need regardless of his own challenges. It was not uncommon for him to stop and pick up a stranger begging for food and help restore their dignity by sharing both a meal with them and his time as he listened to their story. To his daughters he was a superhero who came anytime, anywhere for any reason when they needed rescuing.
One of his life’s early victories was his selfless actions that saved the life of a young child when he was a competitive speed skater in Finland. A mother was desperately trying to retrieve a toddler that had wandered on the ice track. He chose to sacrifice himself and jumped in time for the mother to pull the child to safety before the rest of the team came barreling down upon them. Matti suffered injuries and lost almost all his teeth but never complained. It was this lifelong testimony of actions that translated into success in his chosen profession.
Among his talents were his brilliant abilities from leading projects as the general foreman for large commercial buildings to the intricate craftmanship, design and construction of custom luxury homes. He was a go-to problem solver and the most beloved father, husband, grandfather, uncle, cousin, co-worker, boss, and friend.
He served honorably in the Finnish Navy, joined the merchant marines, and traveled extensively having been to 38 countries. He fulfilled his dream of emigrating from Finland to Canada and as a senior embarked on a new adventure that led him to the privilege of becoming an American citizen.
Matti overcame many tests and trials with faith and a hard work ethic. He also cared for his first wife, Sirkka, during her 13-year cancer journey. After her loss, he did not think he would find his smile again. Then one fateful day, he was blessed with the most amazing, unexpected answer to prayer when Pastor Mary Schultz brought a twinkle to his eye and that special grin with a dimple that lit up his face. He proposed, she accepted, and they were blessed with an amazing marriage for 11 years and 1 month to the day. He loved this incredible, sweet, kind, joyful, fun loving, Godly woman until his dying breath. He simply called her, “My Love”.
Matti Kalervo Syrja, age 83, of Cottage Grove, passed away surrounded by family in his home on March 27, 2021. He is preceded in death by his parents, Veli and Rauha Syrja; Anne’s birth mother, who passed away from cancer, Sirkka Annikki (Pieniniemi). Matti is survived by wife, Mary Syrja; daughters, Anne Maarit (John Aaron) Weber and Mervi Hannele (Mark) McKenna; grandchildren, Minja, Matthew, Michael, Markus and Marja; brother, Erkki Syrja; sister, Raili Kesalahti and many beloved nieces, nephews and extended family.
Matti had accepted Christ as his personal Savior early in life and his fervent prayer was that everyone would experience the peace he had. He knew he was going to Heaven and would one day reunite with his family and beloved friends at the Eastern Gate.
Psalms 116:15 KJV
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.”
Due to COVID restrictions a private family service will be held. There will be a Celebration of Life gathering on a later date TBD. This allows for a more inclusive outdoor venue with extended family and friends.
Message from the Family
We would kindly request that in lieu of flowers you would consider a donation in memory of Matti Kalervo Syrja to The Sanctuary of Hope. Matti wholeheartedly supported the mission of sohcares.org because it provides life-giving solutions. Not only do they affirm his sacred belief in the sanctity of life, but also the commitment to support the birthmother.
A place of refuge for pregnant single mothers to choose life over abortion. She makes the decisions about what the future will be for herself and her baby, from fulltime motherhood to adoption. Made possible because each girl receives ongoing support and provisions, including education and housing for both mother and child. This continues until the child is 18 years old, if she so chooses. These services are offered free of charge and supported through donations.
To make a tax-deductible donation, obtain a receipt and provide notification of the gift to Matti’s family, it must be received in check form:
Please make out a check to Hagee Ministries and be sure to indicate that it is for the Sanctuary of Hope (or SOHCares) in honor of Matti Syrja in the memo section. For notification to the family please include names.
Address: P.O Box 1400 San Antonio, TX 78295-1400
Phone Number: 210-499-1544
MEMO: SOHCares in Honor of MATTI SYRJA
Family: Mary Syrja & John/Anne Weber
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