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James Anthony Aiken

1956 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
James Anthony Aiken Obituary
James Anthony Aiken passed away Oct. 25, 2017, in Citrus Heights, California, after a gallant battle with liver cancer. He was born in Fairbanks on Dec. 15, 1956, to Pete and Velma Aiken. His family homesteaded at 4 mile Chena Hot Springs Road, where his father built a two-story log home. Jim was the youngest of three children.
Jim attended local Fairbanks schools, graduating from Austin E. Lathrop High School in 1974. There, he was a thespian of drama and theater, as well as a member of the Lathrop choir. He was also active in Fairbanks Light Opera Theater while in high school. Jim considered Diana Rigg his greatest childhood influence, with Samantha from "Bewitched" his second. Jim also delightfully and proudly corrupted many people by introducing them to Tom Lehrer's music.
Jim had the opportunity to try out for the cast of "Up With People" when it came to Fairbanks in 1974. Jim was one of three Lathrop high school students to be chosen to travel abroad for a full year with the cast, dancing and singing all over the world.
When asked why he wished to join "Up With People," Jim replied, "The experience I receive will help me throughout my life. The 'Up With People' program will enable me to see foreign lands and customs that would not have been possible if I had traveled there by myself." And travel he did.
When once asked to name some of the places he had been to in his travels of the world, Jim's reply was, "It would be easier to name the places I haven't been!" Jim performed with "Up With People" from June 1974 to June 1975.
Jim's education included studying theater and acting at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He also studied theater at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Jim worked with the Fairbanks Light Opera Theater and the Alaska Repertory Theater before moving to San Francisco. There, he worked with the San Francisco Ballet Theater and the San Francisco Opera. Jim was a member of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. Moving to Seattle in the late 1990s, he became a member of the Seattle Gay Men's Chorus.
Jim had a great appreciation and love for opera that started at a young age. Some referred to him as a walking encyclopedia of opera and musical theater.
He was a singer, actor, gay rights activist, the best human a dog could possibly have, a gentle spirit and the best friend a human could be honored to have.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Pete Aiken Jr. and sister, Annette Aiken Barnes. Jim is survived by many friends all over the world, both lifelong and those he just met.
There will be a celebration of life this summer for Jim in Fairbanks. The time and place will be announced at a later date.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Nov. 26, 2017
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