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James Morton Akason


James Morton Akason passed away peacefully on April 10, 2024, in Sun City West, AZ, with his wife Carol by his side. The last year of his life, cancer impacted his physical health and mobility, but not his relaxed, positive, caring nature.

Jim was born on June 8, 1934, in Halstad, MN. to Esther and Martin Akason. His independence, maturity and lifelong love of sports started early, evidenced by Jim and a friend taking a four-hour train ride by themselves at age 10 to Minneapolis to attend the Minnesota state high school basketball tournament at Williams arena. Jim excelled at sports, particularly basketball where he scored more than 1700 points in high school, then a state record. (No 3-point shots then remember) A book has even been written about “Jimmy” and his teammates called Pirates (Halstad High nickname) on the Prairie.

Jim attended North Dakota State University, was a member of the SAE fraternity, was active in ROTC, and followed his time in college with short active military duty at Fort Benning, Georgia. (After the Korean War, fewer officers were required) Then Jim began his career teaching, coaching and guidance counselor history in Minnesota at Dassel High School, St. Cloud Technical High School, and St. Cloud Apollo High School. During his teaching career in St. Cloud, Jim also achieved a master’s degree in education. It was then that he became a guidance counselor. During his long career as an educator, Jim taught history, coached basketball, baseball and football, taught driver’s ed, was an athletic director, coached summer youth baseball, and taught youth swimming lessons.

Jim married his wife of almost 70 years, Carol Svendsen Akason on June 13, 1954. They enjoyed a wonderful journey together that included raising three children, delighting in 11 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren. Carol and Jim lived much of their life together in St. Cloud, Minnesota before moving to Arizona during retirement, more than 20 years ago.

A good friend and family man through and through, Jim was a constant cheerleader for his wife, friends, kids and grandkids, supporting them in their passions and never hesitating to offer encouragement for their successes. His favorite way to spend a day was with family and friends, hearing about what was new in everybody’s life, and creating memories. He cherished good conversation and gathering for a meal; he especially enjoyed golfing, fishing, playing all kinds of card games, attending and watching a wide variety of sporting events.

Jim’s Christian faith played an important role in his life. Jim and Carol were active members of Atonement Lutheran in St. Cloud, MN, and the last twenty years involved with Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Sun City West, AZ.

An avid lifelong golfer, Jim shared his love of the game and energy for life with anyone who was interested. Those who know him best know that Jim could start a conversation with anybody, and keep it going for a long, long, long time. He remained a huge sports fan to the end. Jim was an ardent supporter of Minnesota and Arizona professional and college teams, but also for his Bison from North Dakota State.

Jim is preceded in death by his parents, Esther and Martin Akason. He is survived by his wife, Carol; three children: Brad (Denise) Akason, Brian (Terri) Akason, and Steve Akason; eleven grandchildren: Marissa Akason (Jeremiah), Kelly Wencl (Ian), Erin Burkard, Krista Akason, the late Megan Burkard, Jenna Listberger (Matt), Brett Burkard (Stephanie), Nick Akason, Andy Akason, Joe Akason and Ben Akason; and nine great grandchildren: Jocelyn, Autumn, Jayda, Brooks, Jackson, Emmett, Connor, Lenny, and Gus. We will all miss him more than words can express.

While Jim talked with a normal Midwest accent, he was skilled at reverting to a Norwegian brogue when called upon. When the movie Fargo came out, he could “You Betcha” with the best of them.

Jim’s celebration of life will be held in Minnesota at a later date.

If considering giving a memorial in Jim’s honor, please send to:
Hospice of the Valley West Clinic
9435 W. Peoria Ave.
Peoria, AZ. 85345