Linnea Sue (Duff) Strottmann, 64, passed away Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at her Omaha, Neb., residence. She succumbed to metastatic triple negative inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).
She battled with Finnish “sisu.” From that culture, the term “sisu” — meaning true grit, determination and sustaining courage — described her well throughout adulthood. Her valiant fight versus IBC began near the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. IBC is a rare and aggressive cancer that is incurable and accounts for only about 1 percent of all breast cancers. Because of COVID-19 protocols, Linnea was unable to travel to Houston for a second opinion with the IBC specialists at MD Anderson Cancer Center until October 2020.
Linnea was born June 29, 1956, to Russell B. and Susanna M. (Pakkala) Duff in Cottonwood, the second of the four beautiful Duff girls, and she was raised primarily in Orofino. During her high school years, Linnea worked at the Rex Theatre. Linnea graduated from Orofino High School in 1974. In 1975, she completed the professional office practice program at nearby Lewis-Clark State College. Shortly thereafter, she began working at Western Appraisals & Surveys in Lewiston as a commercial real estate appraisal report typist until 1992. Linnea was an exceptional typist (140 words per minute) who enjoyed office work, office technology and bookkeeping. She loved proofreading and typing appraisal reports using a dictaphone and an IBM Selectric typewriter before word processors — the more complicated and longer — all the better. She was an outgoing, friendly and cheerful person, which endeared her to co-workers. Linnea loved people and never met a stranger.
In 1979 through 1985, Linnea was blessed with three children. In 1986, she became a single mom who loved caring for and giving them all that she could. She surrounded them with her parents’ and sisters’ families creating memories that she cherished. She was proud of each of her five children’s and granddaughters’ accomplishments and was looking forward to all that the future was to bring.
Linnea married Steven Strottmann on Oct. 2, 1992, in Carson City, Nev. Together they had two boys. During the early years of their marriage, they called the beautiful Inland Northwest home, living in Spokane and Pullman, and later in Coeur d’Alene. On Oct. 30, 2000, her husband loaded up the family and moved to Omaha.
Linnea loved living and life with her husband, children and three granddaughters. She enjoyed her extended Idaho vacations visiting family, and since February 2012, numerous road trips to Houston and Waco, Texas. Linnea was a devoted mother and raised her five children to the best of her ability despite challenging medical conditions throughout adulthood. She took pleasure in being a homemaker, grandmother and caregiver. She was an avid reader, especially the KJV Bible. While in Omaha, Linnea was blessed to be a homeschool mom, hockey and Eagle Scout mom. Upon relocating to Omaha, she was baptized into membership at Westside Baptist Church. Linnea was active in the church’s ladies Bible study groups. Linnea believed that she was one of the elect and knew the Lord. She had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Finally, Linnea is now pain-free after many years, with her Savior.
Linnea’s Finnish heritage and her parents’ Iron County, Mich., roots were a source of pride. She excelled at making traditional U.P. (Cornish) pasties from a recipe passed down from her mother and grandmother Hilma Pakkala. Linnea was also a proud USC Trojan and Baylor University Bear mom.
Linnea is survived by her husband. She also left behind three children from a prior marriage to Mike Spinella: Joseph N. Spinella; Kara L. Spinella (John Owens) and her daughters Taylor, Hailey, Olivia, all of Gresham, Ore.; and Matthew D. Spinella, in Las Vegas. Also surviving are sons Erik S. Strottmann (Schessa Garbutt), in Inglewood, Calif., and Carl D. Strottmann, in Omaha. Her sisters Terri (Gary) Picone, in Lewiston; Julie (Troy Townsend) McCoy, in Coeur d’Alene; and Ila Duff, in Clarkston, also survive. Additionally, many beloved nephews, nieces, cousins and uncles Jack A. (Sharon) Pakkala and Michael Pakkala survive. Linnea’s parents and uncle Joseph V. Pakkala predeceased her.
Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. May 3 at the Reichmuth Funeral Home in Elkhorn, Neb. Visitation was held from 4-6 p.m. May 2 at the funeral home. A celebration of life will be held at 4 p.m. May 8 at the Sunset Park, 2602 11th Ave., Lewiston.