James Varsos, a man who was more commonly known as Hobo Jim, passed away Oct. 5 after being diagnosed with end-stage cancer.
Hobo Jim was named Alaska’s official balladeer in 1994 and was best known for his “Iditarod Trail Song” which he wrote in 1982. He spent the majority of his music career singing and writing songs about Alaska. In 2018, University of Alaska Anchorage awarded Varsos with an honorary degree of a doctorate in music due to his work sharing Alaska’s history and culture with the world through his music.
Hobo Jim announced on Sept. 18 on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with end-stage cancer and that he only had a few more months to live. Varsos faced this diagnosis bravely, and expressed how after the loss of his son and daughter-in-law he is ready to move on from this life.
In response, his fans flooded his Facebook page with love and support to express how thankful they are for his work and how he’s touched many lives.
“The outpouring of love and support has been absolutely amazing,” Varsos wrote in response to his fans, “I guess I am one of the lucky ones who gets to hear all of this before I go.”
Alaska’s favorite balladeer expressed his gratitude for being able to make a living making others happy and that Alaska will forever be in his heart in the same post that announced his diagnosis.
Hobo Jim will be greatly missed, and his legacy will live on through the many songs that he has blessed the state of Alaska with.
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