March 23, 1940-October 12, 2023
Kaisa Marjatta London (née Nieminen) died on Oct 12, 2023, at Evergreen Health Hospice Center in Kirkland, Washington. The cause of death was heart failure.
Kaisa was born in Kokkola, Finland, on March 23, 1940. Her father Tauno was at the front, fighting in the Winter War, and in her early years Kaisa and her siblings were raised by her mother Salme, her aunt Martta, and her grandmother Aurora. Kaisa joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as an adolescent in Jyväskylä, Finland, and in 1961 took the SS Ivernia to the United States to study at Brigham Young University, where she met her future husband, Gary London. They were wed on December 17, 1965 in the LDS Salt Lake Temple and moved shortly thereafter to Seattle.
Kaisa’s lifelong love of books and reading led to a second master’s degree and a late-life career as a librarian at Seattle Public Libraries, following earlier stints as a teacher and bookstore owner. She found purpose and joy working with women in religious and community service, and until the end met weekly with her LDS sisters to make quilts for those in need. Her marked affinity for mothers and refugees was shaped by her personal history as someone whose birth family had been displaced by war.
Kaisa had definite tastes, and they ran to the clean and organized when it came to her home, stylish simplicity when it came to her dress, egalitarian when it came to her attitudes, and no-nonsense when it came to her communication. As she aged her manner softened, allowing her natural curiosity, love of life, and good humor to shine, but her bluntness never faded and she remained both a realist and a fighter until the end.
Kaisa took pride in her appearance and as a younger woman, when she couldn’t afford the clothes she wanted, she sewed her own. Her eyewear got compliments from strangers until her final days. A nicely set table, fresh flowers, and books books books – these were all trademark Kaisa, but she found her greatest joy in companionship and conversation, especially that of her husband.
Since their retirement, Kaisa and Gary lived their summers in Kaisa’s homeland – she would say home – of Finland. She spent the weeks and days before her death in Helsinki and Seattle, surrounded by the love of family and friends. It was her sister singing to her in Finnish that finally allowed her to pass from this world and onto the next.
Kaisa is survived by her husband Gary, her siblings Jorma and Helena and cousin Paul (Pate), her children Eric, Kristian, and Mari, and her grandchildren Michael, Bridget, Soren, and Sloane.
Friends of Northwest Great Books have many fond memories of Kaisa, her surprising wit, lovely accent, brilliant comments, and snappy style. Kaisa’s contribution to Northwest Great Books was huge and so very appreciated. We will forever remember the lasting impact she has had on lives! Folks recognize that gentle mix of kindness, intelligence, and gravitated to it, what a wonderful legacy she has left.
Donations in Kaisa’s name can be made to Mary’s Place in Seattle.