Many describe Ed as “… a good guy.” To those that really knew him, he was a husband, father, mentor, teacher and friend.
The family of Edward Paul Skalko (aka Eddie, Edward, Ed) announce that Ed has left this physical world to a better place where he joins the many friends and family that preceded him. Ed passed on Saturday morning, October 29. It brings us joy that he is at peace.
Ed had a good run of over 90 years. His immigrant parents came to America for a better life, settling in Sparta, MN, and raised a family of 12 children. He was the youngest. Ed had to grow up quickly. His mother went blind, and his father died when Ed was young.
Ed’s brothers and sisters always looked out for him—but everyone had to contribute to keeping the family going. One of the tasks was that Ed would help milk the cows before school. For fun, Ed spent time with friends playing kick the can and other good-natured games, including sports. He spent a lot of time at the Sparta rink, on the shores of Ely Lake, and occasionally he ran down to the Luukonen’s candy store with a nickel that his dad gave him on payday.
Attending Gilbert schools, he was a Buccaneer at heart. An athlete and a competitor, he was on multiple sports teams, including football, track, hockey, and basketball. Ed always appreciated his teammates and those who helped him develop his skills—including coach Steve Kerzie. Ed earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Minnesota Duluth where he excelled in hockey and also played football. His love was football. He loved to compete, and he earned a teaching degree at UMD. These were two skills that would help him the rest of his life.
Ed served his country during the Korean War. He enjoyed treating the local children with candy, building basketball courts for the communities, and did Sumo wrestling on the side.
After the service, he moved to Gilbert, MN, and met and fell in love with his one and only—Marian Grams. They raised a family of five children in Virginia. Making ends meet with a large family, a home and a car were an expensive proposition and Ed worked many jobs, selling cars, door-to-door sales of Kitchen-craft pots and pans, and working part time at Grams Oil for his father -in-law, driving a truck filled with lubricants or fuels at a time when Erie and Reserve mines were getting started.
In 1969, Ed had the opportunity to purchase Grams Oil; his father-in-law’s company, and did so renaming it Edwards Oil. One man and a truck is how it started. His wife Marian was the bookkeeper and the business was run out of their family home in Virginia, MN. Eventually his business grew, and he hired family and neighbors to help him.
The business kept growing and in the ’80s and ’90s, he added convenience stores that were named Lucky Seven. The name Lucky Seven was his idea. He believed that his family of seven were fortunate and had to be a little bit “Lucky” in order to survive in a small business and to be living on Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. Ed’s hard work grew the business and he retired at age 70. The business stays family owned and carries his name as a legacy.
Ed’s heaven on Earth was the cabin on Lake Vermilion near Tower, MN. It was a gathering place for family and friends. It was enjoyed nearly every weekend in the summer. His memorable moments at the cabin were when he hosted family reunions. A large gathering wasn’t uncommon and Ed always had the badminton net set up, croquet games going, people water skiing or tubing, and the grills cooking up a feast.
Two family marriages were performed on the dock there. Ed made sure that the grass was always well manicured and he spent hours tending to the flowers, plants, and lawn so that they were perfect. He loved flowers, their beauty and color. He also loved playing cards with the family, especially a game of blackjack or 31. It was always good—except that he cheated. However, he thought he was fooling us and we let him think it—but he was mistaken—and he wondered why he hardly ever won.
He loved gazing at the stars from the deck at night, thinking that some were moving when, in reality, they weren’t. It happens when you stare at one spot for too long at night, Dad!
He would sit in his special chair looking across the lake toward Gruben’s bridge to see what he could see and would try to guess where the boats were going. A trip to Fortune Bay casino with Marian was a regular occurrence and he had one lucky machine that he knew well and was rewarded at. His name was Lucky Eddie to those who knew him at the cashier’s window at the casino. His lucky machine? It’s just up the stairs by the doors leading to the restaurant and on the second level near the ATM. It should have plenty of cash in it by now. Give it a try but tip the staff at the cashiers’ window well—Ed always did.
Ed liked to laugh. His goofy style of having fun was something to be cherished—he made up the rules and the jokes as he went along. He was tough when he had to be. Most of all, he was a good man to know … a husband, father, mentor, teacher, friend. Thank you, Dad. May you rest in peace.
Ed survived by his wife of 65 years, Marian; four children; Bob (Beth) Skalko, Dawn (Dr. Chris Radnell) Santelli, Paula (Scott) Wagner and Kim (Stephen) Flake; grandchildren: dr. Cara (Dr. Jeff Standish) Santelli, Patrick (Sarah Oppelt) Santelli, Scott (Jessica) Skalko, Amanda Trunzo, Craig (Maggie) Skalko; and nine great-grandchildren: Kai, Kieran, Alden, Nora, James, Elliott, Georgia and Theodore; and multiple nieces and nephews.
Ed is preceded in death by his daughter Gail; his grandson Ryan Trunzo; all his sisters: Ann Granroth, Julia Bezek, Eva Holmes and Ellen Drobnick; and all his brothers: Frank, Mike, Matt, Dan, John, Steve, and Bill. He loved them all and they loved him too.
Thank you to his doctors and nurses who treated him in Virginia, Hibbing and Duluth clinics and hospitals, and to the Edgewood team that cared for him during his last year and a half. Memorials are preferred to Marquette Catholic School.
Ed’s funeral will be at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Virginia, MN, on Monday November 7, 2022 at 11:00 am Visitation is an hour before the service. Private interment will be in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia. Family services are provided by Bauman-Cron, a Bauman Family Funeral Home, in Virginia. To express condolences online, visit www.baumanfuneralhome.com.