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James R. Stevenson

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CROSSLAKE — James Richard Stevenson, who recently received the key to the city of Crosslake, Minn., in recognition of his generous artistic contributions to the local library, passed away Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, at the age of 86. An accomplished artist, pilot, singer and veteran, he touched the lives of many with his warm heart, beautiful illustrations and unfailing faith.

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Jim was a resident of Crosslake, Minn., for 22 years, but was a native Iowan, born Nov. 16, 1924, in Des Moines. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and Drake University, and became a professional illustrator and commercial art designer. He began his career in Des Moines at Meredith Corporation as an independent contractor. For most of his life, he did freelance work through his own studio — Jim Stevenson’s Drawing Room in Des Moines, later renamed the Drawing Room North in Crosslake, Minn. His work has been featured in magazines, books, newspapers and his own calendar series. His most recent work — a wall-to-wall mural — is on permanent display in the children’s section of the Crosslake Community Library.

Jim served as an Army Ranger from 1942 to 1946. He was a decorated veteran, and earned a Purple Heart and presidential citation during World War II. Later in his life, Jim received his pilot’s license — still up to date upon his death — and purchased his own Piper Cherokee plane, spending 1,650 hours in the sky and attending air shows. He was a member of the Antique Airplane Association. Jim was also a talented painter, creating works on commission, for sale and for entry into local art shows. His artistic talents extended into music, and he sang regularly in the choir at The Log Church in Crosslake, Minn., where he was member. He also spent much of his free time fishing in the lakes of the Whitefish Chain.

Jim leaves behind many family members who each had their own unique relationship with this unforgettable man. He and his wife, Doris, enjoyed a 63-year marriage envied by many, sharing both fantastic adventures and life’s simplest moments with one another — in love as newlyweds even in their twilight years.

Jim is also survived by two children, Jim (Barbara) Stevenson, of Liberty, Mo., and Claudia Stevenson, of Des Moines, Iowa. He was affectionately known as “Poppa” by his Birdie, Tas, Jesser, Caitlyn and five great-grandchildren. He also is survived by his sister, Elizabeth “Betsy” Dessel, of Omaha, Neb. Jim will be missed by numerous friends as well.

Services will be held at The Log Church, 37218 County Road 66, Crosslake, Minn., on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m. Interment will immediately follow at Pinewood Cemetery, 13852 County Road 36, Crosslake, Minn. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made directly to the family.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Brenny Funeral Chapel in Crosslake.

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