James Ronald Sandin
James Ronald Sandin passed away New Year’s Day 2021 after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 86 years young.
Born in Bemidji, Minnesota, to Vernon and Phyllis Sandin in November 1934, “Jim” and his older brother Ken later grew up in Chicago attending Lane Tech High School. After school, Jim ventured west with a friend, ending up at Mount St. Helens working for the Forest Service before joining the Army and heading to the Korean conflict just as the cease-fire began.
After two years in the military, he attended Western Washington State College, earning his degree in geography. During this time, he met his first wife Dona Van Buren. The couple had four daughters together and Jim started fishing in Kodiak with his father-in-law. He fished shrimp, salmon and king crab as a crew member on numerous vessels around the island for many years.
It wasn’t long until he discovered the muddy waters of the Naknek River in Bristol Bay, a place he’d return to for over 40 summers between 1960 and 2005, often working alongside one of his children. Soon, he acquired a permit on points and bought several drift netters over the years, his last being the F/V Vanessa, which he renamed for his oldest daughter who was lost on the F/V St. Patrick in 1981.
Divorced, he would later remarry in 1970 to the love of his life, Frances Clinch, and have two more children. Working two back-to-back winters in the 1970s on the pipeline project in Prudhoe Bay got him involved with truck driving and the Teamsters union, working locally for Brechan, APL and, most notably, being a mainstay at SeaLand/Matson.
Seven years ago, he fulfilled a decades-long dream of operating a harbor tour and brought the P/V Short Haul to Kodiak to entertain visitors and locals alike.
Known for his love of golf and old pups, Jim was maybe best known as a walking encyclopedia of bad jokes. A huge fan of Jay Leno monologues and making humored references to his Scandinavian heritage, he was constantly trying to lighten the day of those around him.
Not as visible was his strong passion for those less fortunate than himself, helping people without fanfare or attention. He was a man who possessed a love and kindness for people hidden behind an immense sense of humbleness and humility. Jim championed the underdog, befriended the loner, and gave the world a gentle touch it so desperately needs.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Frances, brother Ken, daughters Kim, Tammy, Phyllis and Marcy, and son Nick. He leaves behind eight grandchildren: James, Ryan, Michelle, Alex, Michael M., Danielle, Michael S. and Ava, and one great-granddaughter, Coral.
Jim’s wish was for any donations to be made to the Humane Society — Kodiak Animal Shelter.