Skiing 01
Official Obituary of

Pertti "Peter" O. Reijula

October 10, 1952 ~ March 11, 2023 (age 70) 70 Years Old

Pertti "Peter" Reijula Obituary

Pertti “Peter” Olavi Reijula, age 70 of Glen Ellyn, IL peacefully passed to eternal rest on Saturday, March 11, 2023. Peter was born on October 10, 1952, in Lahti, Finland. He met the love of his life Susan Marie Augustine, his beloved “S,” at Northern Michigan University. She worked in the library, while Peter enjoyed many nights at Andy’s Bar in the camaraderie of his NMU ski team. He excelled in Nordic skiing and was a member of the Finnish National ski jumping team in his youth, placing 5th in the World Junior Skiing Championships. At NMU, he was the 1973 NCAA Champion in the Nordic Combined event and was elected to the NMU Sports Hall of Fame in 1986. Peter received his degree in Business Administration from Northern Michigan University in 1976. He continued his education after NMU, receiving an MBA in Marketing from Michigan State University two years later. He was proud to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Business from Northern Michigan University in 2005 where he gave the commencement address and inspired his audience to strive for “life-long learning,” and to “embrace change”.

Peter and Susan were married on June 19, 1976, in Crystal Falls, Michigan surrounded by family and friends, and that celebration continued throughout a loving marriage of over 46 years. Their incredible partnership spanned the globe with career opportunities in East Lansing, Michigan; White Plains, New York; Gavle, Sweden; Bradenton, Florida and Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Peter found passion in marketing and business and experienced early success in his parents’ grocery store and through an internship with Proctor & Gamble in Finland. His drive, intellect, and strong leadership skills fueled his career progression and increasing responsibility with General Foods Corporation, Tropicana Products, and Alberto-Culver Company. He joined McCain Foods in 1994, rising to the role of President of the U.S. Foodservice business with annual sales of over $1 billion. He deeply enjoyed the challenges of his work and was a tremendous and humble leader. Numerous colleagues recognize his impact as a brilliant strategic mind and mentor supported by his steadfast sense of fairness and the kind words he had for all. Peter valued many lifelong friendships with cherished colleagues from throughout his career.  He served on many boards and industry organizations including the National Juice Products Organization from 1994-2000 and the National Frozen Pizza Institute including as President from 2004-2005. He continued to find career success as a food industry executive and CEO leading turnaround and profit improvement efforts with both private equity and private companies including Great Lakes Packaging and Dickinson Frozen Foods. He advised and consulted with many in the food industry even after his diagnosis with ALS in 2013.

While meaningful work was always important, the absolute joy of Peter’s life was his family. He was a devoted husband and father who loved his wife and three daughters fiercely. He coached Glen Ellyn Park District soccer for a decade and provided endless support and encouragement for his girls whether before an exam, soccer game, tennis match, track meet, basketball game, or dance performance. Despite his career demands, he never missed family dinners and important events for his daughters. Family travels to Finland, Alaska, the Lillehammer and Atlanta Olympics, Ireland, and beyond were lovingly documented by his trusty cameras, even if nearly confiscated by Italian police at the Vatican. He was the absolute source of spot-on career advice for family and friends. His grandchildren adored their beloved “Pappa” and his zest for jokes, Wordles and puzzles, the endless stories read, and his enthusiasm for the stickers placed all over his wheelchair.

Ever hospitable and always joyous in his self-proclamation as “semi-host,” Peter was at his best when surrounded by family and friends. He had the great gift of making others feel welcomed, comfortable, and loved. His great sense of humor and quick wit brought laughter to all. His wisdom and perspective on life allowed him to confront the challenges of ALS with his trademark grace and sisu- the Finnish quality of inner strength and perseverance.

In honor of Peter, please raise a robust glass of red wine with a cheer of “Kippis.” Laugh often, travel together, and tell your family members “I love you always.”

He is survived by the love of his life, Susan M. Reijula; daughters Katie (Ed) Wasilewski, Lisa Reijula (Brendan Delaney) and Erica Reijula (Tim Stawicki); grandchildren Kira and Peter Wasilewski and Maxwell Stawicki; siblings Pirjo (Vesa) Heino and Antti Reijula; siblings-in-law Mary Lou Gagala, David (Joan) Augustine, Anne (Todd) Dixon and Markku Pikkarainen, and beloved nieces and nephews Laura (Gordon) Kessler, Sara (Steve) Schulz, David (Lisa) Augustine, Amy Augustine, Amber (Ryan) Hasenbank, Dain Dixon, Jami Pikkarainen, Topi Reijula, Mimi Reijula, Ville Heino, Vilma Heino, and Venla Heino. He will join his parents Torsti and Terttu “Kyllikki” Reijula; sister Pike Pikkarainen; and brother-in-law David Gagala in eternal rest.

Peter’s family would especially like to thank Dr. Paul Chiang for his extraordinary care in recent years. In the midst of Peter’s health challenges and valiant battle with ALS, we have been consistently surrounded by love. Thank you to our incredibly generous neighbors, friends, and relatives who have cared for our entire family with food, laughter, and friendship.

The family also has special appreciation and deep gratitude for Agnes Szelag who provided Peter with dedicated and compassionate caregiving in his later days and was a great support to Susan.

A visitation will be held at Leonard Memorial Funeral Home, 565 Duane Street, Glen Ellyn, IL on Friday, March 17, 2023, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Daniel the Prophet, 100 West Loop Road, Wheaton, IL on Saturday, March 18, 2023, at 11:30am.

To honor Peter and in lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations made to the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI), Team Gleason, or the Les Turner ALS Foundation.

Friends and family have shared their relationship to show their support.
How do you know Pertti "Peter" O. Reijula?
We are sorry for your loss.
Help others honor Pertti "Peter"'s memory.


March 17, 2023

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Leonard Memorial Funeral Home & Cremations
565 Duane Street
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137

Funeral Mass
March 18, 2023

11:30 AM
St. Daniel the Prophet Catholic Church
101 W Loop Road
Wheaton, IL 60189


© 2024 Leonard Memorial Funeral Home & Cremations. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility