Obituary James L. Severt, 63, passed away, Wednesday, November 26, 2014, at St Mary’s Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, surrounded by his wife and 3 children. Always one to think of others and take care of his family, Jim prepared the following (left at home for his wife), in the event that the outcome of his surgery was not what they had hoped for.
“If you are reading this, I am no longer here.”
There is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
I was born to my earthly home on September 28, 1951, in Merrill, Wisconsin, the 5th and youngest child of Matt Peterson Severt and Virginia (Osness) Severt. Upon arriving home, I was greeted by my sister and three older brothers. These four, along with my parents, cared for me, loved me and remained my best friends for my entire life. There was Sheryl (Tom) Knospe, Gary (Sandy) Severt, Bruce (Carol) Severt and Steven (Karen) Severt.
In our early years growing up on the farm, Steven and I were inseparable. Being just over one year apart, we grew up sharing a bedroom, along with our clothes, shoes, secrets and dreams. The two of us attended school together in the same class, graduating from Merrill High School in 1969. Steven, along with my father (Matt), grandparents (Oscar and Lucinda Osness and Adolf and Minnie Severt), and many other family members (some that I’ve yet to meet) will welcome me home to Heaven.
When Mother and Dad brought me home to a small farmhouse on Norwegian Road, back in 1951, they were farming with Grandpa Adolf Severt. It was this same farm that 25 years later, along with my wife Denise, I would return and call home for the rest of my life. In October, 1951 Dad and Mother would buy their own dairy farm east of Merrill on County Highway G, in the Township of Pine River, that is where I spent my growing up years. Those early years on the farm left me with a lifelong love of God’s ‘critters’ and creation.
My work history started at age 16 as a carpenter’s helper, then a stock boy and carryout at a grocery store. After that, I spent some time as a milk tester. From there, I moved back to the little house on Norwegian Road and Denise and I went farming with my parents. Along the way, I worked at Lincoln Hills School, retiring as a social worker after twenty-five years.
On July 4th, 1970, I married Denise Ann Rogers (daughter of Everett and JoAnn Rogers). We met at a 4-H meeting and have spent over 44 years together. The Lord soon blessed us with four beautiful children; Jamie Lee (James) Johnson of Oshkosh, Tricia Ann (Alex) Crockford of Merrill, Jered James Severt of Fort Lupton, CO, and Sarah Marie, our infant daughter who awaits my arrival in Heaven.
The most wonderful gift and largest responsibility that our Heavenly Father gave to me were our children. The proudest moment of my life was the day that all three of them stood together as college graduates. Each of them has continued to make me proud in their lives, accomplishments and careers. They have blessed us with 9 beautiful grandchildren; Grace and Samuel Johnson of Oshkosh, Sarah, Leah, James, Bethany and Aaron Crockford of Merrill, and Ashton and Lincoln Severt of Fort Lupton. No earthly possession has ever made me prouder than my family and they’ve done it every single day.
Around the year of 2000, God planted a seed in my mind. That seed soon grew into thoughts, ideas and visions that eventually became “Grampa’s Farm” in 2010. It is our family’s fall event that invites other families to come out and experience a taste of rural living. It has been a wonderful labor of love. “Thank you Lord.”
My father used to tell us kids, “Don’t take life too seriously; you won’t get out of it alive anyway.” The Bible says it a little better –
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast their eyes on them? The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits them no sleep. I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner, or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him. Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.
I have always been a grateful American. America was founded on Christian values and beliefs. I served for a time on the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors and involved myself and family within our community. I was fortunate to be part of many organizations over the years with wonderful caring people like the Jaycees, Lincoln County Holstein Breeders Association and Whitetails of Wisconsin.
Denise and I had many foster children over the years. These experiences showed me God’s gift of working with troubled youth. Soon, another seed was planted by God and that lead me to my off-the-farm career at Lincoln Hills School. Looking back now, I see this was one of many of God’s tools that gave me a greater appreciation of how truly blessed I have been. As I write this, I am near completion of a book entitled, “Juvie, Mothers and Their Sons”, loosely based on my years at Lincoln Hills School.
In recent years, I have taken to raising sheep here on the farm. The experience has taught me more about “The Lord as My Shepherd” than about raising sheep. I can now look back at my life and see God’s guiding hand and gentle voice as I moved through this wonderful life he gave me.
The farm boy always remains a farmer at heart. I have been privileged to till the soil, plant and harvest the crops and nurture the animals that God has entrusted to me here on Earth. I’ve come to call this farm my sandbox. And what a playground it has been. As I write this, I look out over the beautiful Prairie River flowing between snow-covered trees. This little piece of God’s creation was entrusted to me for over 40 years. I have tried to take good care of it.
With the death of a loved one comes confusion, anger and mourning. For those who are left behind, I remind you there is none of this in Heaven. I have truly moved on to a better place and will see you all again someday. I leave you with this:
1 Corinthians 13: 4-13
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.