Aune Esther Lilley
Finnish North American Literature Association
Biographical Information (With special thanks to Joyce Koskenmaki, Aune's niece,
who provided me these passages)
Esther was born on Drummond Island Michigan, in 1908. She died in 2001, and is
buried in the Herman cemetery next to Paul, her husband. Paul Lilley was my mother's
oldest brother, and she was my father's sister. She went through the 8th grade in
Watton, Michigan, but that was all there was available there then.
She always longed to write. When they lived in Butte, she joined a writers club and
became close friends with another writer, a woman who she was close to until the day
she died, through correspondence after they left Butte. That's where she first started
writing, her first book about our family.
She always struggled with asthma. Her doctor told her she should always live close to
a body of water, so she and Paul moved to Lake Worth, Florida, where there is a
Finnish community. He loved fishing. Her asthma never came back. For years they
worked as cook and caretaker for a wealthy man in Miami. When they retired they
moved back to Lake Worth. He died several years before she did, and for a while
she lived with her sister Elma. Then she lived alone, but she had trouble eating, and
became very thin. Her friend talked her into moving to the Finnish Rest Home and
sharing a room with her. So she sold everything, but some precious letters and photos,
and did so. One day she fell and had a stroke and was moved from the rest home to
the nursing home. She was paralyzed on her left side. This is when she wrote all those
little stories that she published in New World Finn. She had started the novel before
her stroke, and worked on it a little longer. But she died at age 93
Lilley, Aune Esther. A Man in His Wilderness. New York Mills, MN: Parta Printers,
---. Play It Like Eve with Adam: From Montana to Michigan Via Red Apple.
New York Mills, MN: Parta Printers,1990.
---. My Big Man Joey. New York Mills, MN: Parta Printers, 1994
---. Father Said, "Eat, Don't Giggle."