Proud vet was voice of the valley
October 25, 2018
There will be a memorial service for James "Jimbo" Stevens, Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Klukwan Alaska Native Sisterhood Hall. Stevens, 70, died peacefully Oct.16 at Haines Assisted Living following a brief illness. He never fully recovered from a 2015 stroke, his son Henry Stevens said.
Stevens was a "super proud" Vietnam veteran who loved his family, community, and country, and especially enjoyed music, Henry Stevens said. He hosted a country music show on KHNS, participated in a Klukwan Church Christmas Cantata performance, was in a local musical, "King Island Christmas," led karaoke at the annual Klukwan ANS Christmas Eve program, and facilitated weekly karaoke nights at the Fogcutter Bar in Haines.
"He always sang the patriotic song by Lee Greenwood, "God Bless the USA" at least once a night causing customers to stop, stand, and salute, with hands over their hearts," Fogcutter owner Kelly Jessup said.
No matter how many times she'd heard Stevens sing it, "It was always pretty moving," bartender Lyndsey Hura said. "Jimbo would come in and get a soda, and ask about my family and tell me about his kids. He was a super nice guy." Stevens played poker and was in the bar pool league, but didn't drink alcohol for health reasons.
He received the "Golden Mic" award from community radio KHNS following his first stroke about 10 years ago. Former program director Amelia Nash said that not only was Stevens "an incredibly loyal volunteer" who anchored a Friday afternoon show for years, "He re-learned how to talk, and then chose to return to the most public of all forums, radio." Stevens told station staff that he had learned his broadcasting skills in the Navy. "He had a lovely, deep resonant voice," a polished delivery, and used the catch phrase "Check it out, " Nash said. His radio shows were instantly recognizable for their blend of popular and patriotic country tunes. Off mic he told jokes and laughed easily.
James Henry Stevens Sr. was born in Douglas to George and Margaret Stevens of Klukwan on June 18, 1948, the eldest of six children. His father was a fisherman and he spent time in Auke Bay and Taku as a child. He attended the Klukwan BIA school, graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in 1967 and then joined the Navy. He played fast pitch softball in the Navy and on Haines and Klukwan softball and basketball teams. He married Genevieve (Hotch) Stevens of Klukwan and they had two sons and twin daughters. He worked as a longshoreman and as a bus driver for River Adventures.
Village organizer Lani Hotch said that when they decided to create the Klukwan Veterans Memorial Park, "Jim jumped right in to volunteer, hauling dirt and rocks, shoveling and raking. Jim was very community minded." Stevens was a past president of the Klukwan Alaska Native Brotherhood camp, and a former Chilkat Indian Village tribal councilor. He was an Eagle from the Whale House and "loved the Chilkat River. It was his home," Henry Stevens said, especially subsistence fishing and smoking salmon.
Stevens was preceded in death by his baby sister Angela, sister Therese, brother George "Tiger," and his parents. He is survived by his brothers Tom and Mark Stevens; children Lisa, Anna, Henry, and Andre Stevens, and grandchildren Elizabeth Hashey, Kaitlyn Stevens, Dominic Stevens, and Elijah Diedrickson.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to KHNS, PO Box 1109, and the American Legion, PO Box 452, Haines.