Farewell, Fellow Worker: Jenny (Lahti) Velsek

Believe this is the wedding picture of Jenny and Charles Velsek in 1943, West Al

An obituary of Jenny (Lahti) Velsek, who was closely associated with the IWW for many years.

Jenny (Lahti) Velsek, 93, passed away April 18 in a nursing home at Tucson, Arizona. She was born March 4, 1913, at Eagle River, Wisconsin, the fifth of seven surviving children of Finnish immigrant parents.

Her parents were part of the Finnish- American labor movement, active with the Finnish clubs associated with the Industrial Workers of the World. Jenny described her father as an avid reader of Industrialisti, the Finnish-language IWW newspaper.

As a young woman, Jenny attended classes at Tyovaen Opisto (Work Peoples College), the Finnish IWW school for labor activists near Duluth.

Most of her life she lived in Chicago. She was married to Charles Velsek, secretary of the Czech branch of the IWW, who died in 1979. Jenny then became a companion to anold friend, Fred Thompson, whose Finnish- American wife Aino had recently passed away. Thompson was a well-known figure in IWW history as an organizer, labor historian and educator, and as an editor and writer. In the 1930s, he had been a director and teacher at Work Peoples College, after classes at that institution began to be conducted in English.

After Fred Thompson died in 1987 at age 87, Jenny moved to Springfield, Missouri, to be near a niece. Later she moved to Tucson where she had a brother and his family, and where she lived for the remainder of her life.


Juan Conatz
Apr 30 2016 03:55

Wasn't sure if the pic I included with this obit actually portrayed the two. But just found a picture of Jenny, and although still not absolutely sure...it looks like her


Apr 30 2016 23:05

103 - good job!