Jim Dale Vickery, 63, of Ely dies

James dale Huot-Vickery, 63, of Ely, author, woodsman, national park ranger and Quetico-Superior canoe guide, died peacefully Friday morning, June 27, 2014, in Essentia St. Mary’s Medical Center, Duluth, MN, surrounded by family and friends. Jim was born at Thief River Falls, MN on March 27, 1951 to Ella Mae Huot-Vickery and James McAllen Vickery. He lived his early years in Red Lake Falls and Crookston, MN, attending elementary school at St. Joseph’s in Red Lake Falls and the Cathedral Grade School, Cathedral High School, and Mt. St. Benedict High School in Crookston, where he played both football and hockey and graduated in 1969. He then went to Collegeville, MN, and earned his Bachelor’s Degree at St. John’s University, in 1973.
After graduation Jim worked for Glenmore in Crookston and was the first caretaker of Camp Corbett on Big Elbow Lake for the Diocese of Crookston. There he began a freelance writing career by publishing articles for “Backpacking Journal,” “Wilderness Camping” and the “New York Times.” His writing brought him to Ely to interview Sig Olson in the mid-1970s. Soon he moved to Lindskog’s Resort on Burntside Lake with a pack full of writing assignments for magazines, as well as working as a feature writer for the Ely Echo from 1979 to 1984. In 1982 he became a contributing editor for Canoe magazine, a position he held for the next five years.
Jim was fortunate enough to purchase land and a cabin on Browns Lake by Ely in 1983. He named his land “Hocoka” – which is Sioux for “center of the circle.” While there he continued his writing career and trained as a national park ranger. His first book, Wilderness Visionaries, was published in 1986 while he was working as a ranger at Redwood National Park in California. He returned to Hocoka in 1986 to resume his writing and working on his cabin. He also began studying aviation, aerial photo interpretation, general forestry, and search, survival and rescue.
In January, 1987, Jim’s article “The Land Is Alive With Wolves” appeared in Audubon magazine together with wolf paintings by national artists. The following spring he researched and wrote “Ely Country,” a general history of the Ely area for the Ely Echo’s Centennial book - Ely, Since 1888, covering the area’s geology, voyageurs, iron mining, logging, taconite development and the evolution of recreation.
In 1988 Jim began working as a National Park Ranger for the Apostle Islands, a position he held till 1998. In 1991 he published his second book, Open Spaces, which won him the Sigurd F. Olson nature writing award, and in 1998 his third book, Winter Sign, was published. He was in the process of writing another book, Blue Waters, that recounts the adventurous journey he took, following the flow of water from his cabin to Hudson Bay using the un-traditional route of the Nelson River.
For a time Jim was also involved with the River Keepers of Fargo, ND, completing the entire Red River Millennial Tour tracing the length of the Red River from Wahpeton ND to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and then receiving their “River Keeper of the Year” award. He was also a participant in a two-part Metis trail ride that took place in Canada.
Jim was an avid local sports fan attending events or listening to them on the radio. He sold his land in 2009 and moved into Ely where he currently lived. He was presently researching the journals of Henry David Thoreau.
Jim is survived by his loving family including: sister, Jennifer (Brian) Martin, Fargo, ND; his beloved nieces and nephews: Angel (Rick) Normandin, Bagley, MN; Mari Bjorkman, Moorhead, MN; Anja and Kaija Martin, Fargo, ND; Autumn (Jack) Hanson, Crookston, MN; Sara (Steve) Dykstra (Steve), Red Lake Falls, MN,; Serena (Lee) Fredericks, Crookston, Kristie (Chris) Nelson, Anchorage, AK; Tammy Burton, Williamsburg, KY; Dominique (Carrie) Brule, Tucson, AZ; Jacques (Dorothy) Duquette, Bovey, MN; Scott Sirek, East Grand Forks, MN; Bob Sirek, Reynolds, ND; Tony (Jackie) Sirek, East Grand Forks, MN; and Andy (Cassandra) Sirek, East Grand Forks, MN.
Jim was preceded in death by his mother Ella Mae, father Jim, sisters: Joan and Josita, as well as, a niece, Elizabeth Ann. May God bless Jim’s memory.
A memorial Mass for Jim will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, July 2, 2014, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Crookston. Visitation with his family will be at the Stenshoel-Houske Funeral Home on Tuesday from 5-7 p.m., with a 7 p.m. prayer service followed by the Rosary. There will also be visitation at the Cathedral for the hour before the funeral. Inurnment will be in the St. Dorothy Cemetery at Dorothy, MN at a later date.
Semers Park will be the site of a memorial service on Sunday, July 13.