Obituary: David J. Bottem


October 18, 2019

David J. Bottem, 64, of Barnum passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Essentia’s palliative care. David was born on September 6, 1955, in Triumph, MN, to Donald Jay and Laverne Marie Bottem. He grew up and attended school in St. James, MN, and graduated in 1973. He attended Concordia College in Moorhead where he majored in Elementary Education. David sang in the Chapel Choir at Concordia, where he and Debra Nelson met their sophomore year, and they were married on August 21, 1976.

After graduating from Concordia College in the spring of 1977, David began his teaching career in Barnum. He continued his education by earning a Master’s Degree in Education and then a Master’s Degree in Administration. After 18 years of teaching in Barnum, David became the Elementary Principal in the Hinckley-Finlayson School District for the next 6 years. He then returned to the Barnum School District as its Superintendent of Schools for the following 18 years. David retired from public education on June 30, 2019.

David was passionate about all aspects of public education. Following his student-centered mantra of ‘doing what is best for kids,’ it was important to David that all school employees had what they needed to provide students with the best possible learning opportunities. Beyond that, David was proud of working with other local school districts to share curricular and instructional practices.

David enjoyed strong hot coffee, cooking legendary feasts for family and friends, hunting, fishing and making people laugh. He was the master of puns, and no one was safe from his sense of humor, mischief and fun. David was a very special man and he and the twinkle in his eye will be greatly missed.

David was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Debra; his brother, Curtis Bottem; sister, Tammy Bottem; sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, one great niece and one great nephew.

Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Atkins-Northland Funeral Home, 801 14th Street, Cloquet. Visitation will continue from 9:00 until the 10:00 a.m. Memorial Service, Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Hope Lutheran Church, Moose Lake. Arrangements entrusted to Atkins-Northland Funeral Home. To sign the guest book and leave an online tribute see


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