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A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 11 AM at the First Lutheran Church in Baudette. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Interment will be at Elm Park Cemetery at a later date.

James (Jim) Dwight Stennes, age 77, died peacefully at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay, MN on February 13. Jim was born in Roseau, Minnesota on November 7, 1942, the first of four children to Lorris (Lars) and Lillian (Lil) Stennes. The family moved in 1951 to the small Red River town of Drayton, North Dakota where his parents owned a furniture store and funeral home, and where Jim graduated high school in 1960. He attended the University of North Dakota and earned a degree in mortuary science from the California College of Mortuary Science in 1964.

Jim entered the United States Army in 1968, serving in the infantry in Vietnam and the mortuary in Saigon, before returning stateside to escort fallen soldiers to their final resting place back home. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1974.

After the military, he returned to northern Minnesota where he met and fell in love with Kaye Pepera. Kaye and Jim were married on December 27, 1975 at Sacred Heart Church in Baudette, Minnesota, blocks from where they would later raise their family. Jim tried his hand at farming before becoming the funeral director for Helgeson Funeral Home in Baudette in 1986. He retired from Helgeson’s in 2006.

Jim was passionate about the small, tightknit community of Lake of the Woods County. He applied his rare mix of quiet kindness, patience, and respect to serve the community with dignity in their moments of grief. When not serving the community through his vocation, he could often be found serving it in other ways, whether through coaching youth sports and activities, as an EMT, or in his service to the school district as a member of the school board. A mild-mannered funeral director by day, Jim was also known to be a spirited—and rather vocal—fan at Lake of the Woods athletic games.

He loved spending time with his family most of all. Whether fishing on Lake of the Woods, traveling, or celebrating the holidays, Jim had the biggest smile and the heartiest of laughs while with them. He was a constant support to his children, chauffeuring them to various activities and sports throughout their youth and encouraging them in all their endeavors.

Jim is survived by his wife of 44 years, Kaye, their children Shane Stennes (Stacy), Seth Kuhl-Stennes (Megan), and Emily Stennes, and three grandchildren, Liam, Julian, and Jonah. He also leaves behind brother Greg Stennes (Andrea), sister Kathy Stennes, sister-in-law Connie Stennes, and Kaye’s siblings Tom Sand Pepera (Dale), Mike Pepera (Shelley), Tim Pepera (Kim), and many cherished nieces and nephews.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Lars and Lil, and by his brother, Steve.

The family is eternally grateful to the staff at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay who took such good care of Jim in his final years. In lieu of sending flowers, the family asks that you consider contributing in Jim’s memory to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay, Lake of the Woods Dollars for Scholars, or to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Last modified: 02/18/2020

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