Matthew “Kiki” Robert Banovetz of BabbittMatt, born in Ely, Minn., on Aug. 7, 1928, was the personification of goodness and greatness.
Matt, born in Ely, Minn., on Aug. 7, 1928, was the personification of goodness and greatness. He was a gracious, resolute leader for his family, the North Shore, and northeastern Minnesota. As Reserve Mining Company’s president and a central figure during the litigation against Reserve during the 1970s, he was dogged in leading the company and the community.
Among all of his accomplishments, what he prized most was his family. He was a devoted husband, loving father, and an adoring grandfather and great-grandfather. He inspired in all family members an unwavering commitment to community, humility and grace, kindness, the responsibility to care for others, a love of nature, and a strong work ethic. He was a rock-solid gentleman.
He began his 35-year tenure with Reserve as a laborer in its pelletizing plant, and he lit the first pilot light to commence the company’s operation in 1951. From shoveling pellets, Matt rose into management positions. He served as Reserve’s president from 1981-1986. When appointed president, a Duluth News Tribune editorial took pride in the fact that a native son, whose father had worked as an underground miner, climbed the corporate ladder, from hourly laborer to president; the editorial heralded Matt as northeastern Minnesota’s Horatio Alger story.
Matt is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ilona (Mills); son, Peter (Susan) of Vadnais Heights; daughters, Terry Banovetz-Gerst (Gary Gerst) of Maple Grove and Sue Grozdanich (Rod) of Liberty Lake, Wash.; grandchildren, Lisa Karney (Kevin Hurry), Erin Lake (Jason), Nick Banovetz (fiancé Liz Steele), Andy and Tyler Gerst, Matt and Sara Grozdanich; and great-grandchildren, Xavier Lowell, and Elise and Jackson Lake.
Matt is preceded in death by his son William; parents, Matt and Josephine (Grahek) Banovetz; and brother Rudolph (Rutz).
Memorial services are scheduled for 11 a.m., Aug. 26 at Sychar Lutheran Church, Silver Bay, and 11 a.m., Aug. 28 at Waverly Gardens, North Oaks. A reception will follow the services. Matt’s ashes will be buried on August 27 in a private ceremony at the Ely cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Babbitt Golf Course, 2806 Highway 21, Babbitt, Minn., 55706, or the Babbitt Public Library, 71 South Dr. Babbitt, Minn., 55706.