CALUMET, Mich. (WJMN) – . There’s a sense of family that makes Calumet hockey special. A man that was part of generations of hockey families was Robert Erkkila. In a place like the Colosseum, you can always find someone there. Someone like Robert Erkkila, or Bob, His kids knew, if he wasn’t at home or at work, he was at the Colosseum. Watching his friends, his children, his grandchildren, or the hometown Copper Kings play, Bob could be found somewhere around the building.
Paul Lehto, a friend of Robert said, “He was a good friend of mine before we got involved in hockey and of course, I knew Bobby, we were golf partners, bowling partners, and stuff like that, but hockey-wise, Bobby was really involved even when he was a teenager in hockey and through the years, we called Bobby, our historian.”
Dan Giachio, coach for the Calumet Copper Kings said, “Yeah Bob was that constant figure here. Bob was involved in high school hockey, he was involved in junior hockey, he was involved with the Wolverines, he was always here, he was always involved. He did it for his kids and he did it for all the other kids that were in the association, so those types of people are few and fare between.”
Bob’s impact on the Colosseum can be seen by the pictures lining the walls. The names that fill the Calumet Alumni Board right as you walk in. Articles that speak to his passion of the game. And the banners that wave over the crowd as the young men and women skate their hearts out.
Bob and his wife, Virginia, had a large family. 10 children, all four boys played hockey. As his kids grew up, the Erkkila family quadrupled in size. By the end of his life, Bob had 42 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Many of whom play the game he couldn’t get away from.
Mark Erkkila, Bob’s son said, “He watched 11 games in one day because he didn’t want to miss one of his grandkids and they we’re all playing locally. Two rinks in Houghton, the two rinks in Calumet and he just went from kid to kid and watched them all.”\
One of Bob’s grandson’s, Samuel, was the Captain of the Calumet Copper Kings when he was in high school. It always motivated Sam to look up and see his grandpa watching and commentating on his game.
Samuel Erkkila, Bob’s Grandson said, “It’s pretty special to have someone like that watching over every game. You look up and see him up there, it’s kind of like gets you going, you want to play good for him because he loves the sport, he loves watching it, he knows so much about the game you want to impress him. Look up to him a lot. He knows so much. I will never know as much as he does ever in my life, not even close, so it’s just special to me that I know he is watching and he is there.”
Bob passed away peacefully at his home on February 16th this year before he knew the colosseum would play host to two NHL teams. In dedication to Bob’s impact on the Calumet Hockey Community, the Colosseum’s press box has officially been named the Bob Erkkila Press Box. Friends and family say Bob would be excited to see the colosseum transformed.
Paul Lehto said, “Oh, he would be here everyday. It would be hard to keep him out of this building and not only that, he would be helping us. He would be on our committees, he would be on our work committees, and he would be here everyday.”
Bruce Coppo said, “Oh God, he’d probably set up a cot in here (laughter).”
Mark Erkkila, said, “I would most likely guarantee that if they were coming up here, my dad would be a person that would take em around, show em the town, show em the Colosseum and give them all the history on that because he knows everything about the history of our town.”
Bob may not be with us today, but his presence can be felt throughout the Colosseum.