James H. Ekstrom, 75, of Bemidji, died Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009, at his home.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Bethany Free Lutheran Church in Bemidji with Rev. Arlo Feiock officiating. A visitation will be held one hour prior to the service at the church. Burial will be in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Cass Lake with military honors by Jack Kimball American Legion Post No. 234 of Cass Lake.
He was born Sept. 21, 1933, to Swan and Esther (Anderson) Ekstrom, at home, at the Pike Bay Township family farm. He is the youngest of seven siblings. He assumed responsibilities far beyond his age when his four older brothers, and numerous cousins, left to serve in World War II.
Upon graduating from high school in Cass Lake, he went to work in the lumber camps in Oregon. After about a year as a lumberjack, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was sent to fight in the Korean War. He was a member of the 1st Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division and rose to the rank of sergeant and was proud to have carried the national colors for his beloved general, Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at his change of command ceremonies in Coronado, Calif., in July 1954. After the Korean War, he was offered embassy duty if he were to re-enlist. He declined and returned to Cass Lake where he worked for the Great Northern Railroad and the Sioux Line Railroad building bridges. He also worked on the steel gang laying railroad track. In 1959, he married Deloris George of Mason City, Iowa. He was hired by the U.S. Forest Service in Cass Lake to work on the land survey crew later that same year. He located many "lost" land corners throughout the Chippewa National Forest. He was involved in many civic activities in the Cass Lake area, including initiating the first ice fishing derby on Cass Lake and a gun safety course with game warden Gordy Buchanan.
A tragic accident took his left leg, in 1973. After his accident, he retired from the Forest Service. He worked part time at the wayside rest in Cass Lake for several years, and he and his wife owned and operated Arrowhead Resort on Lake Andrusia. He also worked as a hunting and fishing guide throughout the Cass Lake area. He was a member of both the Jack Kimball American Legion Post in Cass Lake, and the VFW Post in Bemidji. He was a past VFW commander. He served as an area fire warden for many years.
He is survived by his wife; sons, Robert (Tetyana), David (Bonnie), Eric (Elena) and James (Sheri); six grandchildren; nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Walter, Harry, Melvin, Reynold and Rudy; and his sister, Jane Newburgh.
In lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to the Disabled American Veterans organization.