James Arlo Aasland, aka Jimmie was a former Joice, IA native and had lived in Appleton MN since 1962. Jim was born May 30, 1938, at the Kingland Hospital in Lake Mills, IA. He was the son of Ancel and Adeline (Bang) Aasland. His hometown of Joice was his grounding place, where he learned how to exemplify goodness. He attended the Joice Public Schools, participated in many activities and sports and was the valedictorian of his 1956 graduating class. The Bethany Lutheran Church in Joice was the basis for his Christian upbringing, being baptized and confirmed in his faith among many relatives and close friends whom he never forgot. He lived in the small, close knit-town of Joice until 1948, when his family then moved to an acreage just a mile from town. He became his father’s “right hand man” at an early age, helping him in his trucking business and with various farm chores, including raising pigs. In his senior year of high school Jim discovered a somewhat forgotten horse in a neighbor’s pasture. The neighbor was happy his horse had found a new home. “Lady” was showered with much attention and it was discovered she had been trained in her earlier life. She seemed to “come alive” with Jim’s nurturing care and a girl cousin took her to the county fair to ride in competitions, where she was put through the paces, and won prizes of excellence! Lady’s descendants, Sundance and Penny, lived out their lives in Appleton pastures. While still in high school Jim bought a Hi-Boy sprayer and began his own weed spraying business, doing custom spraying for area farmers. It was that enterprise that made his college education possible. He attended Luther College in Decorah, IA, for one year and then transferred to Iowa State University in Ames, to delve into the college of agriculture where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy in 1960.
Jim’s pride in being an ISU Cyclone was apparent all through his life. He was a member of the Farm House Fraternity, while a student and made many life-long friends as he studied the art of “loving the land.” After graduation Jim volunteered to serve his country by enlisting in the Army Reserves in 1961. He did his basic training in California and also learned to ski in Alaska. He served for six years in the Reserves, as he began his first job with Smith-Douglas Fertilizer in Albert Lea, MN. Always looking for a position with a more land-based company, he accepted the position of field manager for the American Crystal Sugar Company and moved to Appleton, MN, in 1962. Appleton became his home, as he worked side by side with many farmers who raised sugar beets in the area. Then he was employed by the North Central Ag Service for a short time. In his next position he worked for the Federal Land Bank, where he met more like-minded farmers, helping them hold onto their land. In 1975 he joined the Minnesota Farms Company, eventually becoming president of the organization. He was inventive and forward thinking and used his expertise to introduce the “no till” method of caring for the land he loved, whether his own or his neighbors’. He retired in 2008, having served the company for 33 years. If one sees winter wind-blown soil topping the snow in the ditches around Appleton, it did NOT come from Jim’s style of farming! He loved the land and took great care of it. In all, he dedicated 48 years to a career that saw many changes in agriculture.
He also started to invest in available land around him, gradually building up a successful farm enterprise of his own. Farming for himself and being a part of the land he owned was always his passion in life. He inherited nothing, acquiring his land through hard work and perseverance. Jim was active in farming up until his death on June 8th 2015.
Jim’s pride in his Norwegian heritage was evident, with the Norsk flag flying from his “red roofed inn” and his welcoming smile meeting visitors at the door. In 2001, a trip to Norway was thrilling and momentous. He enjoyed meeting relatives and made friends easily in the region of Telemark, his ancestors’ homeland. He was very insistent that his distinctive last name be spelled correctly and the double AA be pronounced, awe – as in “awesome!” Jim’s liking for spritz and lefse was known!
In his personal life Jim was married to Mary Behlen, a native of Appleton, on June 13, 1965. Two children entered their lives to make a family, Chris and Carrie. They built a new home on the southeast edge of Appleton in 1978. This marriage was eventually dissolved in 1995.
He was very involved in his children’s and grandchildren’s lives and was always there for them. Jims children fondly recall learning how to play pranks on people and a love for jokes that resulted from Jims sense of humor and teachings throughout the years. Jim will be remembered by his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews for his famous “whisker rubs” and all the time he devoted to spending with them each and every day. Jim also loved sports, not only did he play basketball throughout his life and taught his kids how to play “PIG” on the home place basketball court, but his company sponsored a woman’s softball team and Jim always brought his kids to watch the games when they were children. Jim loved to watch football on Sundays with Chris and Carrie and with that came a love for football within the family. The Minnesota Vikings were a favorite NFL team for Jim and his family as Jims cousin Mike Stensrud played for the Vikings in the late 1980’s.
Jim’s church was very important to him. He served in many capacities as president of the congregation and as an elder, always at hand when needed. He was Commander of the American Legion Post in Appleton for many years, leading projects and organizing parades and community events.
Left to cherish sharing his life with him are: son, Christopher; daughter, Carrie and her husband, Jason Bowers; grandchildren, Savanna and Morgan Thole and Julia Bowers; sister, Vivien (Aasland) Hansen of Humboldt, IA, and several nieces and nephews and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents and a daughter, Anne Elizabeth in 1970 and his brother-in-law, Daryl Hansen in 1997. Jim was loved by many, and will be remembered by everyone as a man who would give anyone a helping hand if they needed it.
His favorite greeting to his children and granddaughters was “Stay Happy!” He was AWESOME!