Capt. Erkki O. Minkkinen Ret USN Scholarship
This scholarship fund, established by Ida L. Minkkinen, in the name of her father Erkki, both graduates of Gardner High School, will serve as a permanent endowment to support graduates of Gardner High pursuing degrees in the fields of aerospace engineering, marine engineering, or engineering management.
Erkki O. Minkkinen emigrated to the United States from Finland as a young child. Shortly after graduation from Gardner High School, he decided to apply at the Mass Maritime Academy as a marine engineer cadet. He continued to enlist in the Navy and acquired a BS degree.
His experiences were extensive:
1) He worked as a naval officer for 2 ½ years in Japan.
2) He worked with the Polaris missiles at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
3) He became the first diplomatic attaché assigned to Finland, his country of origin.
4) He coordinated the first US Naval Ship to port in Helsinki, Finland.
5) He acted as Finnish interpreter for Presidents Nixon (US) and Kekkonen (FIN).
6) He obtained a patent for the Minki Box.
His daughter, Ida, shares that her father would be pleased to help someone with the start of their career. While it was Erkki's idea to promote education for young people by making a modest gift to an exchange program for Finnish students, it was Ida who elected to expand that vision to establish a substantial scholarship that would last in perpetuity, supporting countless students from the Gardner area on their educational journey. In this way, the legacies of both Erkki and Ida may live on. We thank them for this gift.