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James E. Solheim, 73 Print E-mail
Written by TRF Times   
    Trenton, N.J. - James Edward “Jim” Solheim died August 8, 2012 of respiratory failure, after several weeks of hospitalization.  Originally from Thief River Falls,  he was a resident of Trenton, New Jersey at the time of his death at the age of 73.
    A memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Thief River Falls on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at 11 a.m., as well as a service at St. Michaels Episcopal Church in Trenton, N.J., on Saturday, Sept. 22  at 10:30 a.m.
    James was born on May 16, 1939 in Thief River Falls and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1957. He attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, where he received his undergraduate degree in journalism; and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul. He later received a Bush Scholarship  to Columbia University in New York where he was granted a Master of Science in journalism from that prestigious university in 1975.  In May 1999 Jim was inducted into the Lincoln High School Prowler Hall of Fame.
    Jim was cited by his colleagues as a man of great wit and straightforward honesty, with insights into all manner of subjects. He enjoyed spending time with friends and family and was a skillful storyteller. His accolades are many and might be summed up best as a wonderful colleague, good friend, superb news writer, photographer and great traveler.  Many recall his love of entertaining at home - always putting another log on the fireplace.
    He spent his career as a writer, editor and photojournalist and was highly regarded by his colleagues in ecumenical circles and the secular media.  According to Jerry Hames, editor of Episcopal Life, Jim was “often the first point of contact for religion writers of such publications as Time Magazine and the New York Times when they needed background or an official comment for an article.”
    Of his career, Jim said that he “followed an ecumenical path, working first for the Lutherans at American Lutheran Church (ALC) Headquarters in Minneapolis, then the Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ.”  Later he accepted a position as director of communications in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. He was appointed as the Episcopal Church’s director of news and information  in April 1989 and served  as the principal spokesman in the dissemination of news to the secular and religious media.  Jim said that even with his Lutheran background, he felt comfortable with his role as an official spokesman  for the Episcopal Church. He felt best at print relations, and said that he did get a bit nervous about interviews on CNN, NPR and TV’s “Nightline.”  
    While with the American Lutheran Church (ALC) he was founding editor and designer of Event, a monthly magazine dealing with social issues, as well as an editor of several other periodicals. He served as an associate director of interpretation for the world mission office of the Lutheran Church of America (LCA) in Philadelphia where he was involved with the major merger of the LCA and other Lutheran synods into the present Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
    All these experiences as a journalist took Jim from New York to Boston, Philadelphia and back to New York. He frequently traveled the world for both business and pleasure.  Included in his many experiences were opportunities to meet with many heads of state and business leaders involving the church. He attended the World Council of Churches in Africa; visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - the acknowledged site of Jesus tomb in Palestine; and has met such recognized leaders as the Pope in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury in England.  He was a journalist with the Episcopal Church News Service until his retirement in November 2003.
    It is noted that a remembrance of Jim will be offered by the Episcopal Communicators at its 2013 conference in San Diego, Calif.
    Jim is survived by his mother, Verna Solheim Kaisler, Thief River Falls; brothers: Ron Solheim, Fergus Falls, and Rod Kaisler, Eagle, Idaho; sisters: Jill Kaisler Kezar, Thief River Falls and Ardeth Kaisler Lewon, Surprize, Ariz.; and three nieces and six nephews and their families. He also leaves behind many life-long associates and friends from Trenton, N.J., who miss him greatly.