Hobo Jim, beloved Alaska balladeer, dies after battle with cancer

Just over two weeks ago Varsos went public with his terminal cancer diagnosis.

Alaska-famous balladeer and beloved Kenai Peninsula resident James “Hobo Jim” Varsos died this week after his battle with end-stage cancer.

The singer-songwriter’s brother, Steve Varsos, posted on Facebook on Wednesday thanking Hobo Jim’s admirers for their “outpouring of love.”

“The cancer took him from us much faster than we expected,” Steve Varsos wrote. “We are all still struggling with his passing as we hardly had time to deal with his diagnosis.”

Just over two weeks ago Varsos went public with his terminal cancer diagnosis. His doctors had given him three to six months to live.

The balladeer posted on Facebook after his diagnosis in mid-September that he was not afraid.

“I have been able to make a living making people happy,” Varsos wrote. “I have seen a great deal of the world and all in all, life has been grand and fulfilling. Keep me in your hearts Alaska as you will be forever in mine.”

The late singer-songwriter, a Lower 48 transplant, spent years in Alaska working as a fisherman, logger and cowboy, which inspired much of his music throughout his career.

Varsos recorded multiple albums and has collaborated with artists such as Reba McEntire, Ricky Nelson and Randy Travis, according to Travel Alaska. Varsos was also named Alaska’s official state balladeer in 1994 and is well-known for the “Iditarod Trail Song.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for his wife and family, and had raised over $54,000 by Wednesday.

“A special thank you to everyone in Alaska for the years of love and support you have given Jim and Cyndi,” Varsos’ brother wrote on Facebook. “I know Jim lived and died a proud Alaskan!”

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.