Fairbanks, AK - Fairbanks educator and former state legislator Niilo Koponen passed away Tuesday of natural causes, according to the family’s website.
Niilo Koponen was born to Finnish immigrants in 1928. He grew up in the Bronx. He was the first white student to graduate from the historically black Wilberforce University in Ohio. Koponen’s son Alex Koponen says a folk dancing event brought his parents together. Dad twisted his ankle, mom supplied an ace bandage and the rest is history," says the younger Koponen.