School 15

James Franklin Anderson

February 14, 1939 ~ April 17, 2022 (age 83)


James F. Anderson, 83, of Ely and Hermantown, walked on after a brief stay at Solvay Hospice in Duluth on April 17, 2022.

He was born on Valentine’s Day 1939, which also was his teenage sister’s birthday – a special bond that carried them through the years as she helped raise him while his mother and father had just begun the grand adventure of starting Echo Tail Lodge on the east arm of Burntside Lake. He was the special surprise in his family, and at 16 when his father died he was thrust too quickly into resort responsibilities that set the stage for how he would face any of life’s hardship and adversity: with a quiet resolve and amiable determination. As her “caboose”, the bond forged with his mother through happy times and hardship remained unbroken with her passing.

His early extended-family life formed who he was, and he was proud of his Ojibwe heritage as a Bois Forte Band member. Almost every story told by him served the dual purpose of entertaining and teaching, and he loved passing on his knowledge of language, events, and family lore filled with Andersons, Toutloffs, Rolandos and Bosheys.

He taught for over 35 years, the majority as a math and science teacher in Hermantown Middle School. He loved to pass on his knowledge to young and old alike and was surrounded by wonderful colleagues who made his teaching career even more enjoyable.

While this part of the journey has ended, the special memories remain. He was known for his quiet wisdom, kind laugh, his incredible work ethic, an ability to fix anything, his sense of humor, witty one-liners and wry observations, love of nature and the natural world, walleye fishing, canoe trips, his love for his family, and his genuine and gentle helpful nature. Very few birds went hungry in his presence, and summer walleye and winter trout can now rest easier with his fishing gear now stowed away. All too shortly after he retired he suffered a stroke which robbed him of deferred canoe trips and north country adventures. As he worked to regain his mobility, his grandson Sam became the light in his life and the two of them shared countless adventures across hours of stories, teaching and learning, and laughter. In typical fashion he showed as a grandparent what he was as a parent – patient, guiding, playful and loving.

He now joins his immediate family in the spirit world – his parents John and Mary Anderson, sister Norma (Johnson), and brothers John and Bill. He is survived by Dail, Jim (Nora), Chris (Joanna) and his grandson Sam, along with generations of nieces, nephews, in-laws, resort guests, fellow teachers and educators, and the many students he taught along the way. No words will adequately convey his devotion and love for Dail, who was his lifelong paddling partner and fellow outdoor adventurer, as well as his constant companion, cook, confidant, conscience, chief accountant, and ultimate caretaker. The comfort he felt in her presence at the end exhibited the strength of their 60+ years together. He could not have become who he was to all of us without her by his side.

While his retirement adventures were cut short by his stroke, in his recovery and afterward he remained a guiding force in his family as he showed that physical obstacles were no match for attitude and humor, and his wisdom and positive outlook remained intact, even as he fought an added battle with multiple myeloma in these later years. His nurses loved his infectious laugh.

He will now return home to Burntside, joining the generations before him who lived and loved the lake’s land and water – where he was raised, where he both learned and taught many life lessons, where he met Dail, and where his heart was happiest – his circle completed.

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