Jim Elvig was born September 29, 1946, the elder of fraternal twin boys, to Ken and Margaret Elvig in Bellingham Washington. Jim and his twin John joined older brother Paul and they were followed six years later by brother Dan. The family was poor in worldly means but rich in love and integrity. He always considered himself blessed to be raised by earnest Christian parents. Even though he joked about making up outlandish excuses why he couldn’t go to church any particular Sunday, he was secretly proud of having a perfect Sunday school attendance record, evidenced by a long row of award bars pinned to his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes.
He grew up as a typical mischievous boy, spending hundreds of hours in Whatcom Falls Park, just down the street from home. He, his brothers and his friends tormented the neighborhood with various antics. One day Jim and John chopped down a tree which fell on the power line and cut off electricity to the homes in the area. Another time he and a friend ignited gun powder in the street to scare an inebriated neighbor as he walked by – it worked. In spite of this youthful lapse of judgment, he was intelligent as well as creative, inquisitive and motivated, displaying an interest early on in all things mechanical. He took apart and rebuilt several car engines and taught himself how to repair just about anything. He became interested in firearms and hunting in his teens. He attended Bellingham High School graduating with the class of 1965.
Jim attended Skagit Valley College and enrolled in ROTC in an effort to avoid being drafted. He was drafted anyway and served in Vietnam and the DMZ in Korea. He became an excellent marksman. Jim said he wouldn’t repeat the military experience for $1M, but neither would he trade the experience for $1M. Upon discharge from the Army Jim’s older brother Paul secured employment for him with Moles Funeral Home in Bellingham and he worked for them for several years. He married Linda Haferkorn in 1969 and their son Jason was born in 1972. By this time he was working for ARCO refinery in Ferndale. But having injured his back while an employee of Moles and receiving relief for his pain under chiropractic care, Jim became interested in becoming a chiropractor himself. He took a leap of faith, quit his good job at the refinery and went to Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1977.
In 1978 Jim opened his own practice back in Bellingham and became a very successful chiropractor, ultimately treating over 10,000 individuals in a twenty-year period. He prayed every day that God would use him to help people. He believed in treating his patients not only with excellent care clinically, but also with respect and dignity. He truly cared about them all as individuals. Jim was proud of the professional relationships he formed with many medical doctors who had come to trust him. Jim readily made friends everywhere he went and he was very pleased to make a number of friends through his practice. Some remain to this day, particularly Gary and Terry Cox who are more family than friends.
In the early 80’s Jim was introduced to horse packing by Lindy Scrimsher, a patient who had become a friend. Jim dove into it with passion. He had a number of horses during his time as a backcountry packer and hunter and spent literally hundreds of hours on horseback, on foot and around the campfires in the wilderness enjoying the beautiful gift of God’s creation. Any trip’s success was defined by the amount of laughter and a safe return rather than if an animal had been bagged.
Jim also enjoyed fishing all his life. He spent many hours on the Nooksack River being mentored by and fishing with his father-in-law Bob Haferkorn. In the mid 1980’s he bought his first big fishing boat and began fishing more often on bigger waters including in Canada. The inevitable occurred with the successive purchases of larger boats. But the result was that the fun and the catches were larger as well and the freezer was filled nearly every season with a bounty of salmon, halibut and crab.
In December of 1983 he met Nancy Patten on a blind date at the home of Len and Karen LaHatt, patients who had become friends. Though he initially balked at the idea of meeting a woman in this manner, it turned out they were both smitten. They married in 1986 and enjoyed 36 years together. There were lots of visits with Nancy’s family and Jim forged a strong bond with her step-father Dick who was equally as inquisitive as Jim was. Aside from the daily running of the practice, there were the many activities - skiing, horseback trips into the wilderness, camping trips, hunting trips, fishing trips, most of them with Jason in tow. Never has a man loved, believed in and supported his son with more fervor than Jim did and Jason respected his Dad tremendously. The days and nights spent in the tent, around the campfire or on the deck of the boat were valuable times of training for Jason and bonding for the two of them.
In 1998 Jim decided it was time to retire from his chiropractic practice. He and Nancy moved to Twisp Washington where they have lived ever since. He created the workshop of his dreams there. Always seeking out new challenges, Jim dove into gold-prospecting, building log furniture, metalworking, creating Damascus steel knives and any and all projects needing attention on the property. Rebuild a bridge? No problem. Bust out the roof and build dormers? Got it done. Take up the Banjo? Sure, and not only that but build your own Gourd Banjo to boot. All of it was done with boundless enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. He loved learning and trying new things.
Jim’s deep love for God’s creation and animals eventually quashed his interest in hunting. He would accompany Jason on hunting expeditions but he hadn’t shot anything in years. He took joy in living amongst the wildlife in Twisp but he especially loved his dogs. “Ladd” the last Golden Retriever, or “Laddie” as he was called, had stolen Jim’s heart. Laddie was a rescue dog but it turned out Laddie rescued the Elvigs.
In January of 2015 Jim’s beloved son and only child Jason, died at home in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Had God not made Jim into such a strong and determined individual, he would have died of a broken heart. Always turning to God through His Son Jesus Christ, Jim was able to rise above many difficult experiences in his life, including this one. He had absolute assurance that Jason was safe with God and that he would be with him again one day. Now they are together again. Soon and very soon, we are all going to see the King.
One of the greatest joys in Jim’s life was witnessing his son Jason watch his own son Jake being born. There had been a long period of separation for Jim and Nancy between them and Jake but that came to an end on December 1, 2022 when they were reunited. It was pure joy and love, a great gift to all involved.
During the inevitable aging process of the last few years, Jim chose to simplify his life. Fishing trips continued, but in general the pace of life slowed. The woodstove got swapped out for propane – no more wood-hauling or chimney-cleaning. The workshop projects became less grandiose. He willingly gave up the Winter trips to Arizona while Nancy’s mother aged into her late 90’s and they stayed close by to assist her. He never liked to use the word “comfortable” to describe his life, he equated that with “boring.” Life was quiet but full.
Jim treasured the upbringing he had in the home of parents who loved God and enthusiastically worshiped and served Him. He had a tender heart and was quick to forgive as well as quick to apologize. He will always be remembered for his compassion and kindness. As the years went by he loved the Lord all the more and clearly recognized the Sovereign, loving hand of God in his life. He had begun asking God for more boldness in sharing with others the message of God’s forgiveness and goodness and peace; it was a prayer God answered as Jim lived out his faith more and more openly all the time. He and Nancy never experienced their life with God as religion but as another grand adventure; one full of love and joy and peace.
The final trip to Wickenburg Arizona was to be another gold-prospecting and desert-exploring adventure. On February 3rd, while on a group ride on ATV’s, Jim lost control of the handlebars, was thrown from the vehicle and it landed on him. He was airlifted out of the desert about an hour later and made it to Banner Thunderbird Trauma Center in Phoenix but died in surgery. It’s difficult to believe a man as tough and determined as Jim could not survive his injuries. But surely, in that tiny instant between life here on earth which he loved and lived with such enthusiasm, and eternal life with God which he had always looked forward to, the willingness to step forward into the Light of God’s presence must have come easily once he saw the glory of Jesus’ face calling him home.
Jim was predeceased by both his parents Ken and Margaret Elvig, his older brother Paul, his twin brother John and his son Jason. He is survived by his wife Nancy, his grandson Jake, his younger brother Dan, sister-in-law LaDonna and numerous other relatives.
* If you wish to make a memorial contribution in Jim’s name the family requests you support the Paws4Vets program of the Paws4People organization in Wilmington, NC at paws4people.org and reference Paws4Vets and Jim’s name in the comment/note section.