James Marshall III

  • "Have hit some rough spots lately Jim. Wish you were still..."
  • "I was on his trip to Chilkoot Pass with Mary and Christine..."
  • "I was on his trip to Chilkoot Pass with Mary and Christine..."
  • "Steve, that ol' country song has me laughing and..."
    - Mike Lewis
  • "My old pal, Jim: You always growled when Ank and I would..."

James Victor Marshall III, one of the last crusty, caustic and cantankerous old-school copy editors, died Feb. 14, 2011, succumbing to cancer after an extended illness. He was 65.

Friends and family are invited to attend a potluck wake in honor of the funniest guy they ever met at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Crossroads Lounge, 1402 Gambell St. Bring pictures of Jim.

Jim was born Feb. 22, 1945, in Lovelock, Nev., the oldest of three children born to James II and Helen Marshall. Jim's father was a "hobo" miner who worked in gold and silver mines; Jim spent his childhood and learned his work ethic in hardscrabble mining camps before the family moved to Reno, Nev., when Jim was about 8. He graduated from Reno High School in 1963.

Jim joined the Nevada Air National Guard in 1966 and served as an airman 1st class with 152 Camron Squadron. Simultaneously with his Guard duties, Jim earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Nevada-Reno and graduated in 1971, the same year he was honorably discharged from the Guard.

Even before his discharge, he and some close friends followed a wanderlust and caravanned to Alaska. Jim attended his last few Guard meetings in Anchorage and worked two seasons on crab boats out of Seldovia.

In 1973, Jim returned to the Lower 48 to pursue a career in journalism. He worked for a weekly paper in Dunsmuir, Calif., then was hired as a sports copy editor for the Redding (Calif.) Record Searchlight. He worked there until his love for Alaska called him back in 1985 and he accepted a job as a sports copy editor with the Anchorage Daily News.

Jim met his soul mate and love of his life, Mary Rastetter, shortly after returning to Alaska and they wed on May 11, 2005. Jim and Mary enjoyed their time together and often entertained or visited friends. They also traveled to Ireland and Hawaii together. Jim welcomed Mary's children into his life and his extended family grew to eight grandchildren. He played the role of grumpy grandpa but he was proud of every one of them and thankful to have them in his life.

Jim was a legendary figure at the Daily News, where his inimitable humor kept co-workers smiling. He was famous for pushing the envelope on page design and headline writing. Those who knew him could never mistake a Jim Marshall headline. He retired in April 2009.

Jim was an avid reader, a bowler and a golf fanatic with a wicked slice that he played to perfection. He could be found on the links with friends every weekend from opening day until the water hazards froze in late fall and he could safely bounce across some of his most-hated hazards. An admitted hack, he took pride in regularly breaking 100 and competed in the Alaska State Amateur on several occasions.

Jim loved the outdoors. In 1992, he and a co-worker paddled kayaks 1,200 miles down the Yukon River, from Eagle to St. Marys, in 26 days. Wanting to complete the entire river, Jim set off by himself the next year and followed the route of the Gold Rush, hiking Chilkoot Pass, then paddling across lakes and down the Yukon through Dawson City and on to Eagle.

The prolonged illness gave Jim a chance to say goodbye to his friends and loved ones, and he took advantage of the opportunity. He recently traveled to Ely, Nev., for a reunion with some of his lifelong friends.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Marshall; her four daughters, Marie Russum of Petal, Miss.; Christine Pace of Hawaii; Robin Rastetter of Seattle, Wash.; and Tammy Thompson of Anchorage, her husband Jon Eric Thompson and their eight children: Agnes, Felicity, Jozef, Stephan, Agatha, Matthias, Cecilia and Anastasia;

Mary said she will spread his ashes "someplace warm."

Published in Anchorage Daily News from Feb. 23 to Feb. 24, 2011