Walkin' Jim Stoltz
1953 - 2010
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Walkin' Jim Stoltz set off on his last forever wild hike on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010. Our master troubadour and dear friend fought a heroic battle with cancer in Helena, Mont. He was 57 years old.

Walkin' Jim is widely known throughout the United States for his unique combination of long-distance hiking, original songwriting and photography. Jim was an adventurer, artist, poet, photographer, author and environmental activist.

In his lifetime, he accomplished numerous long-distance treks including the complete lengths of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, an east-to-west cross-continent hike, the entire U.S. Continental Divide, trips from Yellowstone to the Yukon, and many others. In total, he hiked more than 28,000 miles of long-distance trips.

When not on a long trip, Walkin' Jim could be found on any of the many trails in southwest Montana for a day hike with family and friends. He was also an avid cross-country skier. Jim also enjoyed wilderness travels by canoe.

Between trips, Jim would create, produce and perform original shows of his travels with photography and music, always incorporating his keen sense of environmental awareness and justice for all things wild. His musical, hiking, and environmental career spanned 45 years.

Jim was born in Royal Oak, Mich., June 8, 1953, to Wilbur and Audra Stoltz. He graduated from Royal Oak- Kimball High School.

Walkin' Jim began playing the guitar when he was in the fourth grade. He performed in several bands during the 1970s. He first learned his love for the outdoors and hiking with the Boy Scouts. His first long-distance hike was from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail in 1973. The following year, Jim began his Ocean to Ocean walk beginning in West Quodyhead, Maine, and ending on the Olympic Peninsula, Wash. The entire trip followed dirt roads, railroad tracks and trails.

Jim's first recording was "Spirit is Still on the Run" in 1986. He also recorded "Forever Wild," "Listen to the Earth," "The Long Trails," and many others. Walkin' Jim produced over eight musical albums and one music video for children, "Come Walk With Me."

Jim was an accomplished poet. His poetry was published as "Whisper Behind the Wind." Walkin' Jim wrote a book, "Walking with the Wild Wind: Reflections on a Montana Journey," highlighting his inspirational travels and wilderness philosophy.

A few years ago, Jim discovered his talent for painting. He developed an extensive array of work in oils, specializing in interpretive environmental themes. He liked to work in the medium of oil-based cattle markers on canvas. Many of his paintings reflected themes from his songs and poetry.

Walkin' Jim founded Music United to Sustain the Environment (MUSE) with Craig Wagner and Joyce Rouse. MUSE is a group of professional touring musicians who are concerned about the health of our planet. Many of them draw their inspiration from the land, and feel the need to give something back to protect it. Walkin' Jim stood at the forefront of many environmental causes throughout the country.

Jim helped with the planning and design of several trails throughout the American Southwest. A short segment of U.S. Forest Service trail in northern Arizona was recently created and named the Walkin' Jim Trail.

To spread his love of people and song, Jim was employed for nearly 30 winter seasons at Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, driving horse-drawn sleighs to festive dinners where he performed his extensive repertoire of music.

Jim's life is richly entwined by a web of countless dear friends, including thousands of children throughout the country who have learned and loved his stories and songs.

Walkin' Jim is survived by his true friend, Leslie Stoltz of Big Sky; brother, Mark Stoltz of Honor, Mich.; sisters, Susan Grace Stoltz of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Lisa Mohr of Wixom, Mich.; and many nieces and nephews.

Jim's lifework and dreams centered on his desire to share the beauty, the unique character, the mood and the value of wilderness through his music, writings, art and activism. He leaves a special and enduring legacy to his family, friends and enumerable fans - a legacy directing all of us to live lives of happiness while sharing in and protecting all things wild.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, at Last Chance Ranch, 2884 Grizzly Gulch, Helena, Mont. Directions for contributions will be determined in the near future. Updated information will be available soon at www.walkinjim.com.

Arrangements are under the care of Retz Funeral Home in Helena. To offer condolences to the family or to share a memory of Jim, please visit www.retzfuneralhome.com.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Sep. 7, 2010.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
September 28, 2010
I just heard about Jim's passing today, after returning from a backpacking trip on Isle Royale. I did not know Jim well, but I do remember an evening spent with him and other Appalachian Trail hikers in Damascus Virginia in 1974. I remember a long into the night jam session with much singing and playing going on. I met Jim again in Freeport Maine in the '90s when he gave a concert there. I have listened to much of his music and followed his adventures and always admired the life he lived. My sympathy to his family and friends. My thoughts are with you all.
Peter Meitzler
September 26, 2010
I was so sorry to hear about Jim passing away. I want to express my sympathy to all of his family. God bless you all with His comfort. Sincerely, Peggy Giblin (Werner) ( I played on one of Jim's early albums)
Peggy Giblin
September 14, 2010
Our sincerest condolences to the family of Walkin' Jim on his passing. We truly appreciate Jim for coming over to the California Montessori Project - Capitol Campus for our Earth Day Festival early this year. His music has touched and inspired my son & the many children & adults who listened to him that day & who have his CDs playing in their cars & their homes. Thank you, Jim ! We will keep your music alive and your love for the Earth and nature going strong.
September 12, 2010
The only connection my family and I have to Walkin' Jim Stoltz is through his music. The Ballad of Willie and Millie, set in the Columbia Gardens, became a mainstay song for any family gathering the Beckman family of Anaconda and Butte had. It was played and sung by family at the ski lodge on Red Lodge Mountain for Grandpa Beckman's memorial service, it was played and sung at great granddaughter Jordan York's wedding reception and at a number of other family gatherings over the years. Walkin' Jim touched the lives of our family through his words and music and we thank him immensely for that gift. Our thoughts are with all of his family and friends during this time of sorrow and remembrance.
John and Corey York
September 11, 2010
My thoughts and prayers are with Jim's people. Jim was a beautiful soul and so inspirational to everyone. I wrote one of the first stories that was ever published about his songs and his purposeful hikes, and so I feel blessed. We will always remember Jim when we hike and enjoy the Yellowstone area's beauty, and for me, whenever I see a trio of Canada jays.
Elizabeth Laden
September 11, 2010
My deepest condolences to Jim's family and friends. I met Jim through his good friend, Tom who also passed almost exactly one year ago. Jim was an amazing friend to Tom and visa versa. We had many good times listening to his music, sharing his art and hiking. My heart is sad but I know they are booth roaming the wild lands free and unfettered.
Mary Hanneman
September 10, 2010
I am so incredibly saddened by Jim's passing and feel an emptiness deep within me. The emptiness comes from the loss of a friend, a mentor and a true hero. I first saw Jim at an ALDHA gathering and was so inspired by his music, slides and the combination of them. But what moved me just as much was his wit, humor and humbleness. When we all sang along with Jim it was as if we were all one in mind and spirit. Knowing that he will not be at any more gatherings makes me sad for those who will never get to experience the magic of Jim's shows. As I write this I am listening to one of my favorite CD's, "The Long Trails", and picturing him performing "All Along the Great Divide". I can picture the slides melting into another in that true Jim Stoltz style that always made me go "Wow", wanting more and more. Tears flow down my cheeks with the remembrance of the beauty he brought to us and I will truly miss him. Although there is this emptiness, there is also a feeling of how he filled so many lives with happiness, joy and a love of the wild places. A few years back at the 25th anniversary of ALDHA I had the chance to speak about my feelings about ALDHA. I thanked the people that made ALDHA a reality and quoted a line from one of Jim's song, The Appalachian Trail. "The Appalachian Trail is where it all began" and I know for so many that is true. I remember looking at Jim at that moment with real gratitude. Jim had a way of putting words and music together that went right to the essence of why we walk. Jim filled us with his stories, images, music, poetry and he left a tremendous legacy. I will never forget you Jim. Thank you for generously sharing your gifts.........
Dave Fleischman
September 9, 2010
Deepest condolences. I introduced myself to him at a concert at MSU-B and told him we played one of his songs at my dad's funeral in Butte in 1995. He was appreciative.
Joe Cassidy, Billings
Joe Cassidy
September 9, 2010
My condolences to Jim's family, friends and thousands of fans whose lives he touched. He appeared in Buffalo New York a couple of times and we were all moved by his music and message. He will be missed.

Ray Markiewicz, Angola, New York
September 9, 2010
To Jim's friends and family, I am so sorry to hear of Jim's passing and glad to know that he is now and forever "walkin' free". As a steward of the Earth, his commitment and dedication will continue to inspire and motivate others through his music. My grandchildren love his songs, especially that "Big Fat Fish"! May Jim's family and friends find peace during this difficult time.
Cindy Ross
September 8, 2010
So sad to hear of Jim's passing but so very happy to know that he once again hiking and singing in a blissful, painfree place. Our sympathy and prayers go out to his loved ones.
Kathy & Mike Moran
September 7, 2010
we will forever sing the wonderful songs of walkin' Jim. Our children were raised on them and we will teach them to their children! Many prayers and condolences to Lisa, Mark, Sue and Leslie who loved Jim deeply.
Sooney Carroll
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