James Ebsen

james ebsen
A livestream of the service will be viewable below shortly before 5:30PM:
Jim Ebsen passed away on January 11th, 2022, at his home surrounded by his girls and pets. At 11:56PM he drew his last breath, and together, his family opened a window and released him to enter his next journey. It was serene, peaceful and he was forever free of pain. James Joseph Ebsen was born May 13th, 1941 at St John’s Hospital to Henry (Hank) and Helen Ebsen. He was the youngest of three children. He lived most of his life in Fargo, ND. He attended Jefferson Elementary School, St. Anthony’s Catholic School, Agassiz Junior High School, and graduated from Fargo Central High School in 1959. Jim began his college education at the University of North Dakota and later transferred to Moorhead State College. There, he studied speech and English. He was a founding member of The Straw Hat Players and appeared in numerous theatrical productions under the direction of Dr. Delmar J. Hansen. After his college graduation in August of 1965, Jim taught high school English in Mahnomen, MN for two years and then enrolled in graduate school at North Dakota State University. After graduate school, Jim taught and coached speech at Fargo South High School and then later taught English. In 1977, Jim left education and entered the insurance business. For the next 12 years, he worked as an agent and then a corporate officer at Western States Life Insurance Company. In 1992, Jim opened the first supplemental education business in North Dakota where the goal was to help students do better in school. He also owned and operated Prometric Testing Center during that time. Jim retired in 2010. At that time, his passion for education prompted him to enter the political arena. In 2012, he threw his hat in along with 10 other candidates and ran for a seat on the Fargo School Board. While he may not have won a seat, Jim garnered the most votes of the nonincumbents and thusly ended his political career. Jim became an avid Bison fan after retirement and was a member of Team Makers. As a season ticket holder, he went to many games up until his illness did not allow him. Additionally, he witnessed many National Championship games in person. One of his dying wishes was to watch the Bison win their 9th National Championship which his wife and daughters were able to help come true. His Fargo Central High School ‘Midgets’ were forever near and dear to his heart. He was on the reunion committee and was emcee at most of the reunions. He was on the board and was very active in the Fargo Central Alumni Association. Jim had a memory that had no boundaries and was a stickler for the English language. He had a voracious appetite to learn and could recall dates, events, people, whole poems, song lyrics, or most anything he had previously read or heard out of nowhere. He had a sense of humor that was endless and evident up to his death. Jokes were his specialty, and he was often asked to share certain ones. He was an avid reader and exchanged books with many close friends. Jim was no stranger to the editors of The Forum. Jim was passionate in his views and was never afraid to voice his opinion. He had many letters to the editor appear in the local paper over the years. Jim enjoyed the outdoors. He loved to go top speed around Detroit Lakes in his Larson deck boat which he was so proud of. He was a hunter and enjoyed fishing. His hunting trips took him to western North Dakota and Hell’s Canyon in the Snake River Valley Gorge. Gradually, his desire to hunt animals turned into watching animals as he enjoyed the many deer feeding on bird feeders and apples in his backyard. On occasion, turkeys and, on rarer occasion fox or coyote, would delight him as well. He also enjoyed watching the many birds that frequented the bird feeders with that passion rubbing off on his two daughters and their families with the unsaid contest of who would spy what birds first each new season. Jim also enjoyed fishing with his buddies at Devils Lake and often took trips to northern Minnesota. Although, there are some questions as to whether there was more drinking and joke telling than fishing based on the number of fish that came back. Jim enjoyed animals. The Ebsen household always had pets whether it was a dog, cat, fish or hamsters. His love of animals was also instilled in his daughters and their families with many pets between them. Jim was very proud of his two daughters, their husbands, his four grandchildren, and all of their accomplishments. His wish was that he would see all four graduate from high school but, unfortunately, that did not happen. Jim met Elaine (Cookie) Loock in 1965 while both were attending Moorhead State College. They married on June 18th, 1966, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Moorhead, MN. They lived in Fargo and built a house on the Red River in Chrisan Estates south of Fargo in 1971. In April of 2009, their home was inundated with water and lost to the Red River. They later found a home in North Fargo where Jim spent his final days. Jim leaves behind his wife of fifty-five years Elaine (Cookie) Loock Ebsen, two daughters, Elizabeth (Jay) Torguson and Jessica (Jim) Kendall, four grandchildren, Luke and Anna Torguson, Jocelyn and James Kendall, brother, H. Lee Ebsen, sister-in-law Dalice Ebsen and many nephews and nieces. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Hank and Helen Ebsen, sister and brother-in-law Joan and Val Veitenheimer. A memorial in Jim’s honor will be at Boulger Funeral Home on Friday, February 25th, 2022 with visitation starting at 4:30 followed by a Memorial Service at 5:30. Lastly, Jim’s final request is a birthday celebration on what would have been his 81st birthday on May 13, 2022. This event will be at the Sanctuary Events Center in Fargo, ND on Friday, May 13, 2022 from 4PM to 8PM. Bring your stories, jokes, and joyful memories of Jim to be shared. The Ebsen family would like to express our gratitude and thank Dr. Craig Eckfeldt, Karen and staff at the U of M Cancer Center, Essentia Clinic Oncology Department, Essentia Hospital Infusion Center, the Hope Lodge in Minneapolis, and Hospice of the Red River Valley. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in honor of Jim to Hospice of the Red River Valley or the Fargo Moorhead Community Theater.

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Memories Timeline


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I had Mr Ebsen for a teacher,he was wonderful. He also was a classmate of my moms

  2. Cookie and family, I got to know Jim over the past year during his appointments. We had a lot of good conversations, from music/musicians, different drinks and bartending, gossiped a bit about community figures, politics, and his daughters and grandkids. He quickly became my favorite patient. I developed a fondness for Jim and looked forward to him coming in. It was very sad watching his decline but he never, ever lost his feistiness or spunk! I know I will never forget Jim Ebsen!
    My deepest condolences to you all. May God grant peace and comfort to your hearts.

  3. Cookie,
    This is Sandi Lindstrom. We use to live near you and our daughters were both born in October of 1976. I am so sad to hear this news. Please feel free to reach out to me. Prayers that you are supplied with constant warm reminders of Jim. My heart is heavy. Hugs.

  4. Cookie, Jeanne Peterson here. I have been meaning to get back to you since we last talked and too many things have delayed me being able to do so.
    Just found out about Jim’s passing and wanted to express our sincere condolances.. Knew Jim since childhood and grew up a few blocks away.
    Was looking forward to visiting with you and renewing old acquaintances.
    When you have time I would love to hear from you.
    Again, so sorry for you loss of Jim..
    Hugs and prayers being sent.

  5. Cookie and family, I am so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with you for strength in this difficult time.
    Wayne and Corinne Lien

  6. Dear Cookie & Family,

    I am so sorry to read about the loss of JIM. I know how much he meant to you and the family. May God wrap His arms around you and keep each of you in His care.

    There isn’t much that one can say to ease the pain, but please know I am praying for you and your family for the strength and courage to once again see the promise of a better life beyond.

    Your Faith will see you through, and the belief in a better future. Feel free to call me anytime – I feel your grief. We are all in this world together trying to make the best of it and struggle with the many losses we must. endure

  7. Jim was on the committee and helped plan every reunion and almost every birthday party for the FCHS Class of 1959. When he and Terry Saul did there “memory” routine, it was hilarious and we all wondered how in the world they could say those words so quickly and without scripts. His humor and quick thinking will be missed by the Class and by his friends, along with his family.

  8. Cookie, My sympathy to you in the loss of your Jim. It has been a long time since we were roommates, and even longer when our families were friends. Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you. Polly Schellack

  9. Cookie – Larry & I are sorry to hear of your loss. May family & friends surround you at this time. Our thoughts & prayers are with all of you.

  10. Sorry to hear of your loss Elaine. I so remember Jim at our get togethers at First Federal and thoroughly enjoyed his conversations. Also his commentaries in the Forum where so provocative May God bless.

  11. Cookie, so sorry to read about your loss. It has been many years since we worked together, but I have such good memories of you and your family. May God wrap His arms tightly around you all now in this time. My prayers are with you. Becki Tollefson

  12. Cookie and family … It’s Jayne Rutter Kane from the Rainbow Center for Children. I wanted to express my sympathies to you and Jessica( all grown up now) . There are people who leave their mark on you and Jim was one of those . My thoughts and prayers are with all of you…

  13. Cookie and family;
    After high school we did not see each other often but every time I did see Jim it was a fun time with lots of laughs. Jim was a great character. I am convinced he could have been a success doing anything he wished. I did not know it last summer when my wife and I had lunch with you and Jim in Minneapolis that it would be the last time to see him. Every conversation with Jim was enlightening. He had a keen intellect in addition to a great sense of humor. Loved political discussions with him. You have a lifetime full of great memories. Keep them up front.
    Jerry Bich

  14. I have been going nuts trying to remember why and from where I remember James…Straw Hat Players! It is all coming back that he was a founder with Del and I was a johnny come lately to the program.
    My most sincere sympathy and condolences. I am somewhat appalled I wasn’t able to remember right away but he is now most assuredly remembered.
    Mary Tallman

  15. Jim was always a prominent fixture at all of our FCHS Class of ’59 reunions. I’ll miss his humor and insights into members of the faculty and our graduating class.

  16. Cookie and family. Jim was a classmate and good friend.I miss him.My prayers go out to him and family. Mike McGuire

  17. Jim and I were classmates, neighbors and friends at Jefferson Elementary school and off and on friends throughout high school. We played marbles at Jefferson (as he described in a brilliant Cynosure article several years back) and we played together in numerous city baseball leagues for years. He was the one who talked me into trying out for Fargo’s American Legion baseball team on a misty cold night when I wanted to cancel. I thank him for that. My condolences to his family.
    Dave Laufenberg
    Clearwater, Florida

  18. Cookie: So sorry to hear about Jim’s passing. I remember the many good times we had at MSC. We kept in touch a little bit but as time went on not so much. We hardly went back to Moorhead after graduation and only saw you guys a couple of times after that.

    Bob Williams
    Chippewa Falls, WI

  19. Jim’s family: I am a member of the FCHS Class of “59. Jim was so involved in the class reunions and a fantastic MC. Where did he find all the material for his monologues and skits? He usually had us all in stitches. Jim was missed at our 80th birthday party last September. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. May Jim rest in peace.

  20. Dear Cookie, Elizabeth, Jessica, and families.
    Although Jim was a few years ahead of us at Moorhead State, we, nevertheless, got to watch him in action on the Weld Hall stage and backstage. What wonderful memories we have of those great times! He will always be remembered….. As you share the stories and the memories of how he lived his life and how very much he meant, may you find comfort…
    And, throughout this difficult time, may you also know the deep sympathy and concern that is felt for you and all your family.
    Ruthie and Roger Schultz

    “What was once enjoyed and deeply loved,
    We can never lose,
    For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

  21. Cookie and Family: I’m so sorry I cannot attend today’s memorial and funeral. I enjoyed watching the video tribute to Jim’s life- or as I called him James J. Ebsen Esq. the 3rd. Jim and I always had a great time together – I think we 1st met in 1981 on a cold day at the Fargo- Holiday Inn. How cold was it you would ask – well we’ll just say about as cold as today. I’ll save telling jokes till we honor him for his 81st birthday.
    Jim was a great friend and as everyone has already said a great husband, father and a grandfather. And I’m just betting that he might have been a little bit of a stickler as a ” father in law”.
    I definitely plan on coming to the “frozen tundra” of Nort Dakota in May – it should be above freezing by then. Deb and I will keep your family in our prayers today and till we meet again. ” Little Freddy ” as called only by Jim.

  22. My condolences. Mr Ebsen was my English teacher at Fargo South. He was cool. He went above and beyond! He stands out as one of the best teachers I ever had. Sorry for your loss.

  23. I only now have discovered the post about Jim, and I simply want to say how sorry I am. Jim was a good friend during our college days. Watching and hearing the video brought back many great memories. I acted in the shows cited there and presided over Strawhat Players for a year so I had many opportunities to interact with him. His spirited partipation is something I would never forget. Our time in Dr. Hansen’s development of the theatre at MSC (as it was known then) was truly special. Jim was an integral part of that. My heart goes out to his family. He was a truly special person. (Skip Grover, ’63)

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