James Harvey Larsen
August 8, 1948 - January 1, 2023
On the evening of New Year’s Day, James Harvey Larsen, beloved husband, brother, father and grandfather, passed away at age 74.
James was born on August 8, 1948, in Fairmont, MN. He grew up on his family farm outside of Swea City, IA. James graduated from Swea City High School and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in economics & history from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.
James married his high school sweetheart, Judy Davidson, on February 28, 1971. They celebrated 51 years together. Their first anniversary was spent being sworn into the Peace
Corps in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa. James was trained to help farmers learn better ways of growing rice, but ended up working for the National Development Agency building schools, markets, homes and a national park. Their two years in Liberia was a defining experience that broadened his worldview and created his lifelong love of travel.
After the Peace Corps, James and Judy settled on the family farm where James joined his father in the family business. James was known as a progressive farmer; raising corn, soybeans and for a time, hogs. He was well-respected in the farming community as he continually searched out and implemented new agricultural methods. He loved farming and always wanted to support and share his experiences with his peers in the community.
James met his personal challenges with strength and resilience. As long-time member of AA, James found kinship and a sense of purpose as he sponsored fellow alcoholics on their journey to sobriety. His experience with recovery and AA provided him with a spiritual framework for life, as well as a path for his third act. After 25 years of farming, he moved with Judy to St. Paul, MN and earned a Master's degree at Hazelden’s Graduate School of Addiction Studies. He spent his last 10 years in the workforce as a chemical dependency and gambling counselor at Fairview Health System’s Lodging Plus. As a counselor he was able to use his skills of listening, empathy and problem-solving to help others.
In retirement, James continued his love of service by volunteering for the Habitat for Humanity Restore. He loved reading books and watching sports, especially baseball—often at the same time. He also loved traveling the world with Judy, continuing what they started as newlyweds in West Africa.
James’s greatest joy was his family. He was so proud of their achievements. Although he didn’t like to fly, he zig-zagged across the country to visit his sons, Nathan (Afua) and Nicholas (Petrushka) in New York and his daughter, Tara (Miguel) in Oregon. But, it was spending time with his six grandchildren—Poppy, Harvey, Ila, Zadie, Nico and Viviana, that brought out his inner child.
James is also survived by his three sisters; Carmen Farwell (John), Caryl Thompson (Don Orr), and Julie Larsen (John Goranson ). He was preceded in death by his parents, Harvey C. and Myrtle, in-laws, Lee and Betty Davidson; and infant son, Jacob.
James will be remembered as an intelligent, generous and caring man who always had time for family, friends and community. He will be missed by many.
A Celebration of Life open house memorial for James will be held on Sunday, February 19, at Bradshaw Celebration of Life Center, 2800 Curve Crest Boulevard Stillwater, MN from 2pm-5pm. At 3:30 pm, a Service of Remembrance and Sharing will be held. We encourage family and friends to share a story or memory of James during this service.