Jim Ghostley, 88 years old, died in Bemidji during the first hour of Saturday, May 25, 2019, after struggling with lymphatic cancer and other complications.
He was born in Nashwauk, Minn., to Melvin and Nelle Olson on Aug. 28, 1930. Dr. Mary Ghostley adopted Jim after Nelle passed away within a few days of giving birth to him.
Jim was raised in Puposky where Dr. Mary was chief physician and superintendent of the Tuberculosis Sanitorium. He attended Bemidji High School, played football, and was class president during his senior year. While at BHS, he met Connie Carlson whose father then served as pastor at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Puposky.
After serving as a medical corpsman on a hospital ship in the Navy during the Korean Conflict, he returned to Minnesota and went to Bemidji State Teachers College where he served as student president of Future Teachers of America.
Jim and Connie were married at First Lutheran Church on Sept. 27, 1953. Jim taught school in Fargo for a couple of years and Connie worked as a registered nurse. Son David was born in Fargo in December 1955. The family then moved to Aurora, Minn., where Jim taught, coached swimming, and played French horn in the community band. Daughter Mary joined the family in June 1957, while living on the Iron Range. In 1958, Jim decided to go to dental school and moved the family to Minneapolis where daughter Barbara was born in October 1959.
Jim graduated from dental school in 1963, moved his family back to Bemidji, and set up practice. Daughter Carol surprised the family when she arrived in June 1965.
During his 30-year practice, he served in various organizations, including as Jaycee president, president of the Chamber of Commerce, president of the BSU Foundation and Alumni Association, president of the Northern Township, president of the Rotary Club, president of the Board at First Lutheran, president of the NW District Dental Association, and editor of the Minnesota Dental Association periodical. He was also awarded Outstanding Alumnus of the year at Bemidji State in 1973.
Combining his artistic talents with his dental skills, Jim was a gifted wood carver. He very much enjoyed participating in wood carving groups in Bemidji and Blackduck. He also loved sketching and, in particular, teaching his grandchildren how to draw many things. Jim’s beautiful artwork is widely distributed among family and friends, and those creations will always serve to remind us of his lovely spirit.
Of course, Jim was a family-centered man. Over the years, he and Connie opened their lakefront homes in Bemidji and International Falls to family and many friends. Jim loved to visit and tell stories around a bonfire next to the water where stargazing was at its best. August’s Aurora Borealis and the brightest stars will always remind us of Jim — dear husband, great father and grandfather, community leader, and all-around good man.
Jim is survived by his wife, Connie; sister, Cathie Fuller; son, Dr. David (Becky) Ghostley; daughter, Mary (Gary) Klebs; daughter, Barbara (David) Fisher; daughter, Carol (Craig) Goplin; and many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his biological mother and father, Nelle and Melvin Olson; his mother, Dr. Mary Ghostley; his biological sister, Lois Clemetti; his biological brother, Harvey Olson; and his grandson, James David Ghostley.
A remembrance will be conducted Friday, July 5, at First Lutheran Church in Bemidji. Visitation will begin at 9:30 a.m. with service to follow at 10:30.
The family requests that memorials be sent to the United Way of Bemidji, First Lutheran Church Radio Broadcast, the Bemidji Rotary Foundation, or the Sanford Health Foundation.