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Finland woman seeks donations for slain friend’s memorial

This weekend marks the first anniversary of Kevin Tyman’s death. Photo by Allison Oja1 / 2
A Christmas light display graces the grounds of the Minnesota Veteran’s Home in Silver Bay. Allison Oja wants to add an ornament to the display in memory of Kevin Tyman. Photo by Ken Vogel2 / 2

Saturday, Dec. 21, will be the first anniversary of Kevin Tyman’s death and a Finland woman is raising funds to purchase a memorial in his honor. What Allison Oja has in mind is not the usual sort of marker, but a lawn ornament which would become a part of Vetsville, the Christmas- themed display at Minnesota Veterans’ Home in Silver Bay.

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Tyman and Oja had been friends for about 20 years when he was murdered in the Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood just before Christmas last year. Although he lived in Duluth at the time of his death, Tyman worked on the North Shore and visited the area often. A proud U.S. Marine, Oja said a memorial at the vets’ home would be fitting and she’s seeking $300 in donations to make it possible.

“I’ve been putting some serious thought into what I’d like,” she said, adding that her ideas are leaning toward something with a dogsled theme because of a memorable outing she had with Tyman and his wife and kids. “I was still a musher and he brought his kids out to ride on the dogsled,” she recalled. The friends lost contact in recent years, but Oja carries many memories of their conversations and time they spent socializing and working.

The pair met in the early 90s when both delivered newspapers to Duluth News Tribune’s rural subscribers in Lake County. The hours were early and the driving conditions were sometimes less than ideal, but Oja said that Tyman wouldn’t hesitate to help someone with a flat tire or car trouble along the way.

“He was out there in the middle of the night, on a schedule trying to get the papers delivered, but if he saw someone on the side of the road, he’d stop, “she said. He also made himself popular with the guards at North Shore Mining owing to his habit of dropping off a bag of donuts as he drove through Silver Bay. Later, when Tyman operated a landscaping company, Oja hauled small loads of mulch, plants and other materials to his customers. She said that Tyman had a gruff exterior, but he put his customers and employees first and wasn’t afraid to work hard or get his hands dirty.

Two Harbors resident Raymond Weeks has been charged with second degree murder in the Tyman’s death. Joella Tucker of Duluth is facing charges of conspiracy to commit second degree murder for allegedly persuading Weeks to commit the crime. Tucker claimed that Tyman had sexually assaulted her sister and molested her son. The investigation into Tyman’s murder by Duluth Police revealed that Tucker allegedly contacted several people demanding that they “take care” of Tyman. In a later conversation she was said to have spoken to an acquaintance about her son being molested, but boasted that, “Ray is going to take care of it.” Weeks was arrested in Two Harbors in November. His omnibus hearing was postponed until Jan. 15 while evidence is being gathered. Tucker’s omnibus was postponed until Jan. 8.

“I don’t believe her allegations for a minute,” said Oja, who recalls Tyman as someone who went out of his way to help others, particularly those who others deemed unworthy of assistance.

“I can’t tell you how many guys there were who had drug and alcohol problems, but as long as they stayed clean and sober, they had a job and a place to stay or food to eat. He was always generous to a fault,” Oja said. “He was a proud Marine and wonderful father to his kids. He was a good neighbor who always had a helping hand, especially for the elderly. I personally witnessed him helping so many down on their luck. It hurts me greatly to see his name dragged through the mud….”

To make a donation for an ornament to be placed at Vetsville in memory of Kevin Tyman, go to