James Richard “Jim” Torgerson, age 89, passed away on Thursday, October 1, 2015, in The Dalles. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his family.
Jim was born November 7, 1925, and raised in Elk River, Idaho, the son of George Torgerson and Julia Belle (Nolan) Torgerson. The family moved to Moscow, Idaho in Jim’s senior year of high school, and he graduated from Moscow High School. After graduation, Jim enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for one semester. Jim enrolled in the United States Navy in 1943, and served during World War II. He was honorably discharged from the Navy as a Signalman, 2nd Class in April of 1946.
Upon returning from the service, Jim returned to the University of Idaho. While there, he married Lucile Rankin on August 31, 1947. After marrying, Jim enrolled in the Kansas City School of Watchmaking and Jewelry Design, graduating in 1949.
After finishing his program in Kansas City, Jim returned to the northwest, and owned and operated Jarty’s Jewelry Store in Kamiah, Idaho until 1960. Upon selling that store, Jim and the family opened a new Jarty’s in The Dalles. After closing the store in 1963, Jim enrolled in Northern Idaho Teacher’s College and received his degree in Elementary Education. Upon graduation, the family, which now included son Mark and daughter Sally, moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he taught elementary school. The family later returned to The Dalles, where Jim became a teacher at Chenowith Elementary School, where he retired in 1985.
While officially retired, Jim did not stop being active. Indeed, he and Lucile used retirement as a way to become more involved. The couple volunteered in the Peace Corps from 1987 to 1989, serving two years in Hopkins Village in Belize. While there, their initial assignment was to teach teachers. However, at the request of the village elders, their secondary project was to help build a preschool for the children of the village.
After returning once again to The Dalles, Jim and Lucile founded the The Dalles Area Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Jim served in numerous volunteer capacities with Habitat, putting thousands of hours in service at construction sites, as well as working to procure supplies and volunteers. Jim served with Habitat until 2010 when his health began to decline.
Jim was preceded in death by his brother Marvin Torgerson in 2001; sister Eva Mae Una in 2009; brother Delbert Torgerson in 2011; and son Mark in 2012. He is survived by wife Lucile, daughter Sally Torgerson of The Dalles, grandson Alan Torgerson of Denver, Colo., and grandson Sean Garcia and his wife Lindsay of Washington, DC.
Jim was a devoted husband of 68 years, a strong family man, and supporter of social justice and equality – a living personification of kindness and peace. He understood and practiced brotherly love and had a dedication to God. Jim liked to say he was born under a wandering star and as a result, he and his family experienced new adventures and different cultures throughout his life, and were enriched by all of these ventures. His family was blessed with his presence in their lives.
In his memory, we will strive to live by his kind and loving example.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, October 7, at 10 AM, at United Church of Christ, 111 E. 5th Street in The Dalles. Remembrances may be made to Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity at 505 Court Street, The Dalles, or to the charity of your choice.
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