Obituary: James Skifstad


May 27, 2022

James Skifstad, 72, of Esko went to be with his Lord Jesus, surrounded by his family on Saturday, May 14, 2022, after a struggle with Covid-19. Jim was born in Fort Frances, Ontario to the Rev. Earl and LaVerne Skifstad. He was raised in Big Falls, Minnesota, and graduated from Northome High School in 1967. Jim then went to Covenant Bible College in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he met his future wife. After graduating, he worked at Boise Cascade in International Falls until 1970, when he married Joy Peterson in Ellsworth, Wisconsin. They then moved to Milwaukee, where Jim earned his associate in applied science degree in telecasting at Milwaukee Area Technical College. They settled in Duluth, where Jim worked at WDIO until being hired by the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway. It was a good fit, and he enjoyed the variety of his work there, first in the track, then in the bridge and building departments. He retired 26 years later. Jim served in the U.S. Army Reserves and was honorably discharged in 1975. He served faithfully as a member of Salem Covenant Church in Duluth and later St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko. Jim enjoyed woodworking, music, fishing and working in the woods. He had a tremendous work ethic, a generous heart, and was such a blessing to his family and friends.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, the Rev. Earl and LaVerne Skifstad, and sisters-in-law Beth Skifstad and Ruth Lyons.

He will be deeply missed by his wife of 51 years, Joy, of Esko; daughters Rachel (Matthew) Woltjer of Stillwater, Roxanne (Josiah) Parker of Maplewood and Melanie (Gary) Ojanen of Cloquet; grandchildren Cody and Kaylee Ojanen, and Luke and Emma Parker; brothers Donavan (Karen) of Walla Walla, Washington, Jerry of Monroe, Washington, Kevin (Debbie) of Lindford, Minnesota, and Curt (Joan) of Walla Walla; sisters Joan (Reynold) Lofgren of Little Fork, Minnesota, and Bonnie (Dennis) Clark of Prairie Grove, Arkansas; and many nieces, nephews and friends.

Visitation: 1 p.m. until the 2 p.m. funeral service Thursday, June 2 in St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Esko. Private family burial will immediately follow the service in St. Matthews Cemetery in Esko. In lieu of flowers, memorials to St. Matthews would be appreciated. Arrangements entrusted to Atkins Northland Funeral Home, 801 14th St., Cloquet. To sign the guestbook and leave an online tribute, see


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