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Friday, April 14, 2023
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Monday, April 17, 2023
Starts at 2:00 pm (Pacific time)
Aino Manni Kikkas, 96, Coeur d’Alene, passed at age 96 from this life into the arms of her Savior Jesus Christ, on Thursday, March 30, 2023 at The Lodge at Fairway Forest.
She was born April 14,1926, to Vassili and Helene (Kirman) Manni in Tallinn, Estonia. Aino spent many happy childhood years on the Estonian island of Aegna, where her father was military commander. Things turned dark though during World War II with the invasion of Estonia by Communist Russia in 1939 and later by Nazi Germany in 1941. To avoid death or deportation, many Estonians, including Aino’s father and older brother, Edgar, were forced to go into hiding.
At age18 Aino herself was forced to flee her beloved country when Russian forces once again breeched the borders in 1944. She made her way to Poland, but the encroaching Red Army pushed her to trek (sometimes on skis) ever westward during the cold winter months of early 1945 through Czechoslovakia and eventually to the American lines along the Rhine in Germany. On her journey to freedom she barely escaped death several times — from gun and cannon fire, bombings, and starvation.
When the war ended, she spent several years working as a translator for the British and living all the while in displaced persons camps. When the chance came to immigrate to America in 1951, she seized it and sailed for New York. She also lived and worked for a time in Newark,
New Jersey and St. Louis, Missouri, and enrolled in night classes at business schools. Aino studied diligently for her citizenship exams and became a proud U.S. citizen in 1957.
A job offer in Los Angeles brought Aino to California, where she became an accountant for the Standard Oil Company. In L.A. she met other Estonian refugees, including the man she would marry — Kalju (“Cliff”) Kikkas — on May 13, 1961. She and Kalju later moved to Hayden, Idaho in 1967, where he continued his job with GTE. They became longtime members of Coeur d’Alene Bible Church, and enjoyed leading many Christian endeavors there. Evangelism was dearest to Aino’s heart; there’s nothing she enjoyed more than sharing her amazing story and faith with others, whether one on one or to large audiences. Looking back on her experiences, she sees the guiding and protecting hand of God on her life, even before she knew him in a personal way.
Aino had a great ability to befriend young people, especially internationals and also those on staff at places she lived during her last years at Fair Winds, North Star and The Lodge. She will be remembered for her sharp wit and keen sense of humor, her fight against communism and for conservative issues, her passion for Bible study, her love of animals, and her thirst for adventure. She and Kalju traveled extensively to places near and far — to the Deep South, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey and Greece, Israel, and eventually to reunite with friends and family in their home country of Estonia after the demise of the Soviet Union. Her greatest regret, however, is that her mother and father and her brother had all passed away before her 1993 return trip to Tallinn. She also found it odd that she needed a passport to enter the country of her birth.
After a brief battle with cancer, Aino’s husband Kalju preceded her in death in 2002. As a widow with no children, her many friends (too numerous to name here) and those she led to the Lord are her survivors. Longtime friends Monica Hillard, Bob and Beth Ployhar, and Randy and Brenda Adams are in charge of final arrangements.
Celebration of life will be 1 p.m. Friday, April 14 at English Funeral Chapel, Coeur d’Alene. Burial will be 2:00 p.m. Monday, April 17 at Coeur d’Alene Memorial Gardens.