Alaska’s most beloved balladeer, James Varsos (better known as Hobo Jim), died last last week after a short battle with cancer. A few days after he passed, his wife, Cyndi discovered a final message from Hobo Jim on his cell phone. She published this to Facebook on Sunday.

“Upon going through Jim’s phone I came across this final message Jim wrote to all of you in his own beautiful words,” Cyndi wrote. “Thank you for loving him and embracing his music and love of Alaska. There is no one like a Hobo Jim fan. Here is to all of you. May God Bless you all.”



To me folks this a word that still lights up every circuit in my body. My mind rushes with images of snowy mountain tops, rugged blue, blue seas, vast unseen, untamed wilderness, images of bears and eagles, moose, and wolves, walrus and thundering herds of caribou. All of this my wondering eyes have seen, along with its more gentle beauties like the brilliant colored lupine and fields of fireweed or snowy arctic cotton.

It is the dress of the commercial fisherman in his Helly Hansen’s brown rubber boots and knit hat.

The lumberjack in his Carhartts with the red suspenders and flannel Pendleton shirt.

The colorful dance costumes of the Haida, Tlingit, Inuit, Yupik, and Athabaskan. Those brave hunter/nomads who first tread this beauty.

Rivers abundant with rich red salmon, oceans of giant King crab and barndoor Halibut.

It is the free spirit of free people. (May you never lose that nor take it for granted).

It is the legends I have known as friends. Col. Norman Vaughn the great Antarctic explorer and master of sled dogs. The joyful face of Susan Butcher. The unstoppable Joe Redington senior, and his longtime friend on the trail Dick Mackey – father of a fine line of champion mushers including his son Lance Mackey, one of the toughest men I know.

I knew when I first looked out on the Kachemak Bay from the crest that I found my home. The search was over and now I was proudly an Alaskan.

Alaska has been wonderful to me, and I owe our state a great debt of gratitude. To all of you. To the land. I thank you all. There is so much more I would like to say but nothing I write would be big enough to encompass my feelings for our state.

You will just have to take the body of my life’s work and maybe one of those songs will touch you in the way this land has touched me.

Though my body leaves this world I leave a piece of my spirit with Alaska as I take a piece of Alaska’s spirit with me.

Thank you, Alaska and may God Bless and keep you all!

Hobo Jim

Hobo Jim’s final tribute to Alaska and those who define it

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Ed+Martin+Jr says:

    Hobo Jim, may your love of song & music embrace Heaven as one of God’s Angels singing forever on ! We love you for the fun & friendship you shared with us all. Blessing & Grace , Ed & Kathy Martin & Family

  • Donalene Harris-Fleagle says:

    You were embraced from the Tiniest blade of grass to the ceilings of our vast colored skies. You were Alaska’s from the moment she felt you tread upon her. You never failed to see the rejected, the downcast and you looked in their eyes. You knew the people and these you embraced most of all. You raised the spirits of those happy, left a touch for those lonely, and you lifted the laughter as if you said yeah I got cha my friend. Fly high

  • Proud Alaskan says:

    It is the free spirit of free people. (May you never lose that nor take it for granted)
    God bless you and your family