HTF mourns the loss of a great friend

He was “a common man with an uncommon character”


 

 

Dear HTF readers and viewers,

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the passing of Tom Rukavina. Tom was known, loved and admired by many in and around his hometown of Virginia, across the Iron Range, throughout the State of Minnesota, and beyond.

Tom was a father of two, a grandfather of three, a brother and uncle, and the husband of HTF’s editor emeritus Jean Cole. He was also a high school classmate and long-time close friend of HTF owner Scott Asbach.

Our hearts break for Jean and all of those closest to Tom. His life was one of service to many and great love for his family.

In a press release issued by the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, the IMA joined others across the state in mourning the passing of former Minnesota State Representative and St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina.

Rukavina was a devoted champion of the people and area he served for more than 30 years, the press release said. He was a strong supporter of the iron mining industry and worked hard to protect and expand jobs for the Iron Range.

Tom is pictured at the State DFL Convention in 2010 surrounded by family. Son Victor and his wife Michelle are at left. Wife Jean and daughter Ida are at his right. Ida’s husband Jesse Dahl is behind Tom.

Tom is pictured at the State DFL Convention in 2010 surrounded by family. Son Victor and his wife Michelle are at left. Wife Jean and daughter Ida are at his right. Ida’s husband Jesse Dahl is behind Tom.

“Tom was a great legislator, historian, and friend, but above all else, he was a fierce advocate for our region,” said IMA President Kelsey Johnson. “We have lost a steadfast leader and passionate voice for Minnesota and the Iron Range. Tom will be greatly missed.”

Those few words sum up what so many are feeling: “Tom will be greatly missed.”

“Choose your adjective: fiery, passionate, compassionate, devoted, combative, witty, smart, abrasive, loyal, obsessive, vertically challenged, insane, legendary, wily, dedicated— they all work when describing Rep.

Tom Rukavina. He even refers to himself as ‘passionately insane’—the inevitable result of his Croatian-Italian ethnicity. One thing he is not, is forgettable.” –Jean Cole (Tom’s wife and long-time HTF editor in her Dec. 14, 2012,

Tom was a long-time, avid gardener at his home in Pike Township.

Tom was a long-time, avid gardener at his home in Pike Township.

HTF article “A common man with uncommon character”).

Remembering Tom:

A special tribute in next week’s HTF

HTF will feature a special tribute to Tom in next week’s edition of Hometown Focus. If you have a story or remembrance to share, please email to cindyk@htfnews.us or submit online at www.hometownfocus.us.

The submission deadline is Jan. 14. In the meantime, we share some favorite photos of Tom that have appeared in the pages of HTF through the years.

The St. Louis County Board held its final meeting of 2016 and the last meeting ever for commissioners Steve Raukar and Chris Dahlberg. Commissioners are holding caricatures of themselves that had been drawn for them by now-retired Deputy St. Louis County Administrator Gary Eckenberg. Pictured (l. to r.) are County Attorney Mark Rubin, County Administrator Kevin Gray, and county commissioners Patrick Boyle, Tom Rukavina, Pete Stauber, Frank Jewell, Steve Raukar, Keith Nelson and Chris Dahlberg.

The St. Louis County Board held its final meeting of 2016 and the last meeting ever for commissioners Steve Raukar and Chris Dahlberg. Commissioners are holding caricatures of themselves that had been drawn for them by now-retired Deputy St. Louis County Administrator Gary Eckenberg. Pictured (l. to r.) are County Attorney Mark Rubin, County Administrator Kevin Gray, and county commissioners Patrick Boyle, Tom Rukavina, Pete Stauber, Frank Jewell, Steve Raukar, Keith Nelson and Chris Dahlberg.

Former State Representative Joe Begich and his wife Carol were presented with a sample of the signs that will identify CSAH 101 as Representative Joe Begich Highway in April 2017. They are surrounded by (l. to r.) County Attorney Mark Rubin, and commissioners Patrick Boyle, Keith Nelson, Tom Rukavina, Mike Jugovich, Pete Stauber and Beth Olson. “Nobody deserves to have a lasting recognition like Joe Begich and the Begich family,” said Commissioner Tom Rukavina. “They all contributed politically and have done so much for this region. Particularly Joe.”

Former State Representative Joe Begich and his wife Carol were presented with a sample of the signs that will identify CSAH 101 as Representative Joe Begich Highway in April 2017. They are surrounded by (l. to r.) County Attorney Mark Rubin, and commissioners Patrick Boyle, Keith Nelson, Tom Rukavina, Mike Jugovich, Pete Stauber and Beth Olson. “Nobody deserves to have a lasting recognition like Joe Begich and the Begich family,” said Commissioner Tom Rukavina. “They all contributed politically and have done so much for this region. Particularly Joe.”

Surrounded by Iron Range Engineering students, former State Representative Tom Rukavina celebrates the unveiling of the newly-named Tom Rukavina Engineering Center at Mesabi Range College in May 2014.

Surrounded by Iron Range Engineering students, former State Representative Tom Rukavina celebrates the unveiling of the newly-named Tom Rukavina Engineering Center at Mesabi Range College in May 2014.

Pictured (l. to r.) in February 2016 are Dr. Michael Zakula, IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips, Dr. Clarissa Sparkman and St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina. Dr. Sparkman, a new dentist to northeastern Minnesota, was awarded the first installment of a loan forgiveness grant as part of the Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program. Rukavina was instrumental in making the loan forgiveness program a reality through state legislation passed in 2010, along with help from the IRRRB. The program was named in honor of Rukavina’s late mother Martha Mordini Rukavina.

Pictured (l. to r.) in February 2016 are Dr. Michael Zakula, IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips, Dr. Clarissa Sparkman and St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina. Dr. Sparkman, a new dentist to northeastern Minnesota, was awarded the first installment of a loan forgiveness grant as part of the Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program. Rukavina was instrumental in making the loan forgiveness program a reality through state legislation passed in 2010, along with help from the IRRRB. The program was named in honor of Rukavina’s late mother Martha Mordini Rukavina.

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