James Varsos, also known as "Hobo Jim," poses for a photo during the August, 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

James Varsos, also known as "Hobo Jim," poses for a photo during the August, 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

Hobo Jim, beloved Alaska balladeer, dies after battle with cancer

Just over two weeks ago Varsos went public with his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Alaska-famous balladeer and beloved Kenai Peninsula resident James “Hobo Jim” Varsos died this week after his battle with end-stage cancer.

The singer-songwriter’s brother, Steve Varsos, posted on Facebook on Wednesday thanking Hobo Jim’s admirers for their “outpouring of love.”

“The cancer took him from us much faster than we expected,” Steve Varsos wrote. “We are all still struggling with his passing as we hardly had time to deal with his diagnosis.”

Just over two weeks ago Varsos went public with his terminal cancer diagnosis. His doctors had given him three to six months to live.

The balladeer posted on Facebook after his diagnosis in mid-September that he was not afraid.

“I have been able to make a living making people happy,” Varsos wrote. “I have seen a great deal of the world and all in all, life has been grand and fulfilling. Keep me in your hearts Alaska as you will be forever in mine.”

The late singer-songwriter, a Lower 48 transplant, spent years in Alaska working as a fisherman, logger and cowboy, which inspired much of his music throughout his career.

Varsos recorded multiple albums and has collaborated with artists such as Reba McEntire, Ricky Nelson and Randy Travis, according to Travel Alaska. Varsos was also named Alaska’s official state balladeer in 1994 and is well-known for the “Iditarod Trail Song.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for his wife and family, and had raised over $54,000 by Wednesday.

“A special thank you to everyone in Alaska for the years of love and support you have given Jim and Cyndi,” Varsos’ brother wrote on Facebook. “I know Jim lived and died a proud Alaskan!”

This story has been updated.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Data from the state of Alaska show a steep increase in COVID-19 cases in January 2022. (Department of Health and Social Services)
Omicron drives COVID spike in Alaska as officials point to decreasing cases in eastern US

On Friday, the seven-day average number of daily cases skyrocketed to 2,234.6 per 100,000 people

Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire
Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise Adventures, stands in front of a ship on May 14, 2021.
Smooth sailing for the 2022 season?

Cautious optimism reigns, but operators say it’s too early to tell.

Former Alaska Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar speaks a news conference on Jan. 10, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, after she sued the state. A federal judge on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, ruled that Bakalar was wrongfully terminated by the then-new administration of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy for violating her freedom of speech rights. (AP File Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Judge sides with attorney who alleged wrongful firing

Alaska judge says the firing violated free speech and associational rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel (left) swears in student representative Silas Thibodeau at the Kenai City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai junior sworn in as council student rep

Thibodeau says he wants to focus on inclusivity and kindness during his term

Branden Bornemann, executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the forum on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A voice for this river’

Forum reflects on 25 years protecting peninsula watershed

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Earthquake Center provides information on a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck at approximately 8:18 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. The quake struck approximately 17 miles southeast of Redoubt volcano or 41 miles southwest of Kenai, Alaska, at a depth of 72.8 miles. (Screenshot)
Quake near Redoubt shakes peninsula

The quake was centered 41 miles southwest of Kenai.

Most Read