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James "Jim" Burford

January 29, 1934 ~ July 8, 2023 (age 89) 89 Years Old


James W. Burford died July 8, 2023. He lived a very active life of 89 years.

Visitation will be 4-8 P.M., July 18th, at Olson Schwartz Funeral Home. Graveside services will be at 11:00 A.M., July 19th, at Greenwood Cemetery with Pastor Genelle Netland officiating.

James Wayne Burford was born January 29,1934, in Bemidji to Waldo and Dorothea (Munig) Burford. He grew up and lived his entire life in Wilton, MN, except for a short time when he and his family moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin. As that story goes, he wasn’t fond of his days in Stevens Point and was happy when he returned home to Wilton. Jim graduated from Bemidji High School in 1951. After graduation he worked in the mines in Hibbing, MN, until he was drafted into the Army. While waiting to board the ship to take him to Germany, he encountered Elvis Presley disembarking the same ship. He was assigned to the Military Police and had many experiences during his time overseas, including skiing in the Alps. Jim married VerNaye Westnes on December 3, 1960. They had two children, Steven and Shelly, and made their home in Wilton. He resumed working at Wally’s Oil Co., which was the family business. He was proud to be a distributor of petroleum products through the Conoco Brand. He became an avid collector of oil memorabilia, which led the President of Conoco flying to Bemidji to visit him and his collection. Throughout his life Jim enjoyed hunting, fishing, flying his airplane, snowmobiling and attending numerous auction sales. He was the mayor of Wilton, a member of the Mason’s and, one of his greatest accomplishments, was being a member of Alcohol Anonymous for 35 years. He was loved and will be missed by all.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, VerNaye son, Steven (Janet Zilka) Burford, daughter, Shelly (Jerry Lofgren) Baker, grandsons, Wyatt Burford and Brady (Morgan) Baker. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, Evelyn Kramer, son-in-law, Max R. Baker, and his in-laws, Knute and Ruth Westnes.

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July 18, 2023

4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home
3330 Irvine Ave. NW
Bemidji, MN 56601

Graveside Service
July 19, 2023

11:00 AM
Greenwood Cemetery
Bemidji Ave.
Bemidji, MN 56601


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