In March 2013, at an event during the Minneapolis Kuopio Partnership’s 40th anniversary year, Bill was honored for the contributions he made in establishing and developing the sister city partnership between Minneapolis and Kuopio in the early 1970s.
In 1975, as president of the Finnish American Society in Minneapolis, Bill wrote that he and the sister city committee were proud to host the Kuopio Folkdancers in Minneapolis, “the first exchange of culture” between the two cities.
Bill Toivonen was born in 1911 to Finnish immigrant parents in the North Minneapolis “Finntown.” During his youth he was a competitive ski jumper and avid outdoorsman. After serving in the Navy Seabees during World War II in the South Pacific, he returned to settle down in Minneapolis. He and his wife, Lillian, were active in Finnish cultural activities, especially the Finnish Heritage Society. At least twice Bill visited Kuopio and worked on projects that included art and book exchanges.
Bill’s sons, Bill and Bernie, and his daughter, Kay, helped him to stay involved with the Finnish community up until the last year.