Updated April 4
Jim Ekberg was born on Winter Solstice, December 21, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He and his older sister grew up in Evanston, Illinois on the campus of Northwestern University where his father was employed as head groundskeeper.
Born to the generation of young men who were called to Viet Nam, the irony was never lost on Jim that he was exempt from military service because of an arm that wouldn’t straighten, the result of an injurious fall he sustained as a schoolboy while marching in a parade as flag-bearer. He attended Carlton College to study pre-med courses, then switched tracks to move west and finish his degree in Sculpture & Design at University of California at Berkeley. Finding himself in the midst of the ‘flower child’ and ‘back to the land’ movements in the 1970’s, he moved to rural Mendocino County, built a house, and lived completely off the grid for fifteen years. During this time he studied the work of Rudolf Steiner and taught young children in the Waldorf tradition.
Jim had studied drama, dance and music from a young age and in later years was an avid and well-loved Contra and swing dancer in the San Francisco and Seattle dance communities. Jim’s life-long interest in spirituality lead him down many paths, including the study of Early Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Sufi traditions, the works of Gurdjieff, A.H. Almaas and many other well-known mystics of our time. In the early ’90′s Jim made a solo bike ride from California’s Bay Area to Washington state and soon moved to Seattle, then moved to Orcas Island five years later. During his time in Seattle, Jim became a licensed Hellerwork practitioner (a form of deep tissue massage) and was also an active member of the União do Vegetal, a Brazilian study group based on the legal use of the herb ayahuasca to enhance spiritual evolution and the search for self-knowledge.
On Orcas Island Jim became a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge and worked as a practitioner at the Healing Arts Center. A highly skilled carpenter and landscape gardener, Jim paid his bills by working in these trades from California to Washington. An example of his work can be seen in the beautiful deck and French doors that now grace the Odd Fellows Hall in Eastsound on Orcas Island. He also spearheaded the development of the Olga Hamlet Plan, and more recently put in many long hours as president of the Olga Water User’s Association.
Jim was known for his warm smile and sunny disposition; in fact when he was a child, he was given the nickname ‘Sunny Jim’. He was quick to engage in all manner of conversation, often bringing in his considerable knowledge of astrology, the mystical tarot, and a Sufi-based system of personality typing called the Enneagram. Jim passed away suddenly on the evening of January 10th due to a cardiac event while driving home after spending time with his circle of friends at the Lower Tavern. A celebration of Jim’s life will take place on Saturday April 6th at 4pm at Schifsky’s Farm, 412 Mt. Baker Road, Eastsound. Potluck. Call 376-2872 for info.
Jim was preceded in death by his father Maurice Ekberg, his mother Alice Lofstrom Ekberg, and his sister Marilyn Tolleffsen. He is survived by his daughter Rebekah Ekberg, his grand-daughter Serena Ekberg, both of Berkeley, California; his brother-in-law Randy Tollefsen of Ukiah, California; his niece Shoshana Tollefsen Boek, nephew-by-marriage Dylan Boek, and grand nieces Dominique and Marilei Boek, all of Chico, California. He is also survived by three former spouses and two step-sons: Linda Rosner (mother of Rebekah) of Pasadena, California, Barbara Ekberg, her son Jude Ehrlich of McKinleyville, California; Eirena Birkenfeld of Orcas Island, Washington, and her son Wesley Quinn Bailey of Duvall, Washington.