Kathleen Liisa Erkkila


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Gloucester - Kathleen Liisa Erkkila passed away unexpectedly on Monday, August 12, 2019 at the Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester where she was born to her parents, Barbara H. Erkkila and Onni R. Erkkila, on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1947. She grew up in Lanesville and attended the Lane School and graduated from Gloucester High School, Class of 1965. At the University of Amherst, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree and resided in that town for several years. She learned to play bass guitar and traveled over New England entertaining at resort hotels. Owning three businesses, Kathy operated a 15-agent real estate company in Amherst. Her agency was the first in the area to use videos for marketing homes and one of the first to have a computer. During her real estate career, she earned the status of Realtor of the Year and was the Chairperson of Education for the Massachusetts Association of Realtors. Kathy also earned the industry designations of GRI, CRS, and CRB. At the same time, she and partners owned the Rusty Nail Inn of Sunderland, which became well known as the largest club west of Boston. With her then-husband and partner, it opened in 1972 and was later enlarged to feature nationally-known musicians such as Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Buddy Rich, Taj Mahal, James Brown, and more. The Allman Brothers and Bonnie Raitt would come to the Nail just to hang out.
With a move back to Gloucester, Kathy became a business consultant and trainer for two different franchises - Gallery of Homes and Coldwell Banker. She is listed in the 1987-1992 edition of "Who's Who in American Women." Then she opened a gift shop, Erkkila's Quarry, on Bearskin Neck in Rockport. Late mother Barbara sold her granite jewelry there and Kathy her own beach glass items. The shop existed for a decade. Overlapping with this period, she was also the first site manager for the newly-renovated Rockport High School Apartments. In recent years, Kathy worked for the Gloucester Housing Authority to run the various homeownership programs. As an educator, she taught first-time buyer classes and developed a foreclosure prevention program for the area. She retired in late 2015 to pursue her beach glass sales on a wholesale basis and on-line.
If asked what her greatest accomplishment was, she might say it was earning her full pilot's license and owning her own airplane. Kathy was one of the founding members of the F.R.O.M., Flying Realtors of Massachusetts. In May of 2019, she was very proud, in addition, of her year-long cessation from cigarette smoking. Filling her also with pride was her Finnish heritage; she delighted in her Cape Ann Finns group membership.
Kathy leaves behind her brother John W. and his wife Betty of Rockport, an uncle Stephen Crowell of Rockport, an aunt Marjorie DeWitt of Tennessee, a niece Liisa Salmi of Walpole, a sister Marjorie of Texas, and many close-by friends, as well as UMass college alumni from all over the country.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, potential remembrances may be made in Kathy's name to a charity of one's choice. Arrangements are by the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St. Gloucester. For on-line condolences, please visit: www.greelyfuneralhome.com.
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Published on August 15, 2019
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21 posts

Paula Hiltz
Aug 27, 2019
I’m so very sorry to hear of Kathy’s passing. Kathy is one of the main reasons why I own my beautiful today, she was kind, giving and so willing to help one achieve their dream. I feel lucky I ran into her recently and had a chance to speak for a few moments. I didn’t know of all her accomplishments, she wasn’t a bragging kind, quite a lady. I will remember you always. My prayers will be with you in your sorrow.
Frank and Susan Crotty
Aug 26, 2019
My wife and I were shocked and saddened to learn of KATHY’s passing. I worked as a volunteer under Kathy’s tutelage at the Gloucester Housing Authority (GHA) for several years. I knew that she had a varied and successful business background, but was unaware of the extent of her accomplishments.
She capped off her outstanding business career with an admirable stint at the GHA helping numerous homeowners avoid foreclosure in the wake of the wreckage of the 2008 housing crash. There are scores of households in and around Cape Ann that are still homeowners because of Kathy’s diligence. Her contribution to the GHA’s efforts in supporting troubled homeowners during those difficult times w
...ill stand as her lasting legacy.
We wanted Kathy’s family and friends to know firsthand what a positive imprint she had on her beloved Cape Ann community - like her mother before her.
Frank & Susan Crotty
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Kim Jylkka Lorden
Aug 23, 2019
So sorry for your loss John and Betty. Kathy sounds like quite the dynamic woman! As a Finnish REALTOR®️ on Cape Ann, I’m sad and shocked I never knew her. I’d love to hear some stories in person. I heard of her passing from a dear mutual friend, Susan Kline. My deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved her 💞 No doubt she will be missed!
Kim Jylkka Lorden
Aug 23, 2019
So sorry for your loss John and Betty. Kathy sounds like quite the dynamic woman! As a Finnish REALTOR®️ on Cape Ann, I’m sad and shocked I never knew her. I’d love to hear some stories in person. I heard of her passing from a dear mutual friend, Susan Kline. My deepest sympathies to all who knew and loved her 💞 No doubt she will be missed!
Diane Staffier
Aug 23, 2019
So many laughs had and fabulous times with her at the Real Estate office in Amherst. Running out to the porch to wave at the passing train, our Easter egg coloring contest, endless peanut butter sandwiches eaten, finding the perfect cartoon to put on the caravan sheet, and our really lame comedy sketch we made the other RE offices sit through. So many more wonderful times with a wonderful lady.
Sharon Love Cook
Aug 22, 2019
I am so amazed, reading of Kathy's accomplishments, but then she always was a go-getter in high school (Class of '65). She was a beautiful girl who became a beautiful woman with brains to spare. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. Our class has lost a shining star.
Lauri kaihlanen
Aug 16, 2019
Grew up with Kathy in Lanesville. We started the first grade together and went through all 12 years together. She was actually one of my first girlfriends. We had a great crew of friends, particularly as elementary school kids. You were a great lady Kathy!
My condolences to family members.
Marjie Erkkila
Aug 16, 2019
I am so sorry that our chance of reconciliation in this life are no more. As your niece, Liisa, said, I missed you for a long time before this.
Marjie Erkkila
Aug 16, 2019
I will hug you again in the afterlife. As your niece said so sweetly, I will miss you more since the chance of reconciling in this life is no more.
Dennis and Phyllis Whaley
Aug 16, 2019
John and Betty So sad to hear the passing of Kathy you have our deepest sympathy.
Diane Crowell
Aug 15, 2019
So sad to hear this news. I love you and will forever remember your laugh and smile! RIP beautiful cousin!
Liisa Salmi
Aug 15, 2019
I have missed you for a long time and now I have to miss you forever. With tears and love, Liisa
Aug 15, 2019
I never met you till now Kathleen, I believe you are Home
Peace to your loved ones on earth
Aug 15, 2019
Aug 15, 2019
Linda, Wayne, Aaron and Luke Mackert
Aug 15, 2019
Grieving for my cousin!!! xoxoxo
Cliff O'Neill
Aug 15, 2019
Kathy was a wonderful person to work with.. Interesting, intelligent, and very kind... Will always have pleasant memories of her.. Will surely be missed for some time to come..
Linda Bowman Cummins
Aug 15, 2019
My dear friend from UMass days. Smart, so creative-her freshman dorm room filled with jewelry that she sold. I loved wearing the earrings that she made. We still cherish our tight group of friends from those days, and will miss our beautiful, sweet, fun friend always. Love and condolences to her family. Linda and Glenn Cummins, Big Pine Key, Fl.
Patricia White
Aug 15, 2019
To Kathy's family, I was quite shocked to read of Kathy's passing. I had recently seen her and a friend at Capt. Carlo's enjoying a beautiful August evening. I met her quite a few years ago through a friend of hers and immediately liked and enjoyed her company. I didn't know her, I guess well enough to know of all of her many, many accomplishments We have all lost a very smart and lovely lady to say the least.
Sheila Berg Wynne
Aug 15, 2019
Sincere sympathy. What a wonderful life she lead.
Heather Atwood
Aug 15, 2019
Dear John and Betty, I am so deeply sad to hear of Kathy's passing. There was a light to her that seemed to defy chronological years. She just always seemed young. I didn't know about her long list of accomplishments, but I should have guessed. I wish I could have talked to her about the Rusty Nail. And the fact that she was a pilot and flew her own plane? - just like her mother and the Harleys. I'm so sad to have to learn these parts of her life here. Cape Ann and the world has lost a beauty. Peace to you all. xo