Kathryn Grace Laurila Eiden, aka Kay, was born Sept. 27, 1936, in Moose Lake, Minn., to Carl Laurila and Aune Kuno Laurila. Kay was a full-blooded Finn and grew up in an English/Finnish-speaking home. She was raised in Big Fork, Minn., alongside her siblings, older brother, Jim, and younger sister, Sally. Her mom worked in the hospital cafeteria and her dad was a logger and setter in a sawmill. In high school Kay worked at the local movie theatre, made pies for a café and dated Garry Eiden Sr. After graduation, on Oct. 22, 1955, the two were married in Phoenix, Ariz., traveling there because Garry wasn’t old enough to marry and had to get his parents’ permission and signature. The couple went back to Minnesota, where a year later they had their first baby, Garry Eiden Jr., then, a year and a half after that, Greg. Packing up everything they owned, the foursome moved to Wyoming, and Garry Sr. worked as a logger in the Green River Lakes area, Daniel, Kemmerer, Cottonwood and Middle Piney. Kay, without running water, cleaned, washed her boys’ diapers and cooked for men at the logging camps. Finally moving to Big Piney, Kay gave birth to Galen and two years later Glenn, and with four boys to feed, Garry became a law enforcement officer and mayor and was also on the fire department. Kay made donuts for all the firemen’s meetings and assisted with fundraisers. While being a helpmate to Garry, Kay raised her boys and treasured the time spent at all of their ball games, swim meets and band concerts. In 1968, they started Eiden’s Salvage yard, and in 1978, Eiden’s Construction was established. For the next 40 years, Kay was their bookkeeper, and then, after building Midway Mall, also managed it.
Kay was born a Finn and lived her life as one in typical Finnish fashion. She had a cute sense of humor with a small, shy smile, but was stoic and incredibly quiet, talking softly and rarely. Since she so seldom gave an opinion or raised her voice, when she did have something to say, everyone listened. Her boys joke that even though they towered over her small frame, nobody crossed her or made her mad because growing up, she’d chase her brood with a broom, which she used as an equalizer. She hardly ever showed emotion, but certainly did, at high volume, when this flatlander was seated in a truck, climbing hills, descending steep inclines, following ridgelines or getting close to a mountain’s edge. She loved camping, picnicking, her yard and nice furniture, clothes and cars, had a never-ending supply of finches or canaries and always a poodle. She liked baking and greatly enjoyed having all of her kids and grandkids at her home for holiday dinners.
Kay passed away peacefully from natural causes at home in Marbleton, Wyo., Aug. 7, 2021. She leaves behind a husband of nearly 66 years, Garry Sr., sons, Garry Jr. (Trena), Greg (Taryn), Galen (Amy), Glenn (Lori), brother, Jim (Sandy) Laurilla, sister, Sally Gilbert, 12 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. Preceding Kay in death were her parents and brother-in-law Wendall Gilbert.