Photo courtesy of Sharon Nelson

Fresh out of Loyola dental school in Chicago, Jim and his first wife Sharon Shaver moved to Haines in 1968 after buying William Sieg’s dental practice in the old medical building above the harbor. An ancient hand crank dental chair, outdated dental instruments and an unpredictable furnace didn’t dampen his enthusiasm. But when Dr. Stan Jones built a medical center in town in the early 1970s he was happy to join him. Jim also was a traveling dentist. Once a month he flew to Skagway to provide dental service as there weren’t enough residents to support a full-time dentist. He also flew regularly to Hoonah to take care of people’s teeth.

Jim moved back to Illinois in 1979 where he started a new dental practice in Coal City, and created a family with Leslee Pomatto and her two daughters and later grandchildren. He also enjoyed teaching at Loyola University and the University of Pittsburgh where he shared a slideshow of his early days as a dentist in Southeast Alaska.

Talking about his adventures in Haines never failed to make him smile — building a log cabin with the help of friends Norman and Patricia Blank, leapfrogging on stage with George Figdor in “The Imaginary Invalid,” driving his 1953 Willys Jeep truck with his arm out of the window pushing wiper blades in snow storms, eating salmon on the beach in Kochu Cove with Linn and Mary Asper, hunting his first moose with Norman, hiking with his daughter Erika Shaver-Nelson on his shoulders.

Obituary submitted by Sharon Nelson