March 19, 1932 - September 22, 2021
James Edward Braaten – pastor to hundreds, counselor to many, and a beloved husband, father, and grandfather – passed away September 22, 2021, at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington. He was 89. Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on March 19, 1932, he was the firstborn to Melville A. and Elmyra Simon Braaten. As a child, Jim especially loved spending summers helping out on his maternal grandparents’ farm. Jim graduated from Chetek High School in Chetek, Wisconsin in 1950, and received his B.A. degree from St. Olaf College in 1954. Rather than accept an offer to pursue graduate studies in history, Jim chose the path of service, completing a Masters of Divinity at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1956, and ordination into the American Lutheran Church (currently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) as a pastor in 1957. A missionary at heart, Jim accepted calls from several smaller parishes over his career, dedicated to bringing the spirit of the Gospel to communities, first in Minnesota and then in Washington state. In the early 1970’s, he also served as chaplain for an international school in south India, which was an especially significant experience for him. Finally, he briefly served as a Navy chaplain for recruits during the Vietnam War, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Jim cultivated an open heart, a readiness to listen and engage, and a capacity to lead while allowing others to find their own ways beyond divisiveness. A natural civil libertarian and humanitarian, his course was nonetheless steered by his mission, undeterred by politics and ideology. Over the years, many have shared their appreciation for his insight and counsel, and his ability to bring people together. His family that survives him – his wife of 66 years, Patricia Ann Smith Braaten, daughters Jane, Alexandra and Anne Braaten, son Steve Braaten, grandson Zachary Braaten, siblings Marlys Johnson, Borgne McClelland, John Braaten, Ruth Glesne, Janet DeGaetano and their children and grandchildren – will remember him for his love of family, adventure, the alpine meadows of the Cascade Range, and the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean. The family wishes to thank PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom Hospice House for their thoughtful service. Family and friends are invited to celebrate Jim’s life at 1pm on Thursday, September 30 at Faith Lutheran Church in Bellingham. If you are planning on attending, please call the church 360-733-3970. Vaccination and masks are required. You may also view this service livestream at www.faithbellingham.org. Share your memories of Jim at www.westfordfuneralhome.com.
James Edward Braaten – pastor to hundreds, counselor to many, and a beloved husband, father, and grandfather – passed away September 22, 2021, at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington. He was 89. Born in Minneapolis,... View Obituary & Service Information
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