Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

James Barney Salmi

IRONWOOD, Mich. - James Barney Salmi, age 77, of Ironwood, traveled home to his heavenly Father on Feb. 21, 2021. Having survived many years of severe health challenges, Jim stayed true to his fierce Finnish heritage and embodied the essence of sisu. A devoted father, friend and Christian, Jim was a light to others throughout his many years on this earth.

Born in Ironwood on Dec. 26, 1943, to Barney and Luella (Santi) Salmi, Jim attended Ironwood and Ironwood Township schools and graduated with the Luther L. Wright High School class of 1962. He furthered his education at Gogebic Community College and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1966. Go Blue!

After being drafted into the U.S. Army in November 1966, he spent the next four years proudly serving his country in Texas, Kansas and Hanau, Germany. Upon his honorable discharge, he continued post-graduate studies at Western Michigan University where he earned a master's degree in counseling and personnel. He used his vast knowledge and kind heart working for Carthage College, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and was ultimately employed by Employers Insurance of Wausau (Liberty Mutual) until his retirement in January 2002.

Jim was always involved in sports, excelling at football and basketball in high school. He took such pride in being part of a team that, after his school years, he enjoyed playing slow pitch softball with his Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church family in Onalaska, Wisconsin. He also loved skiing, hiking, tennis, golf, swimming, boating, fishing and partaking in a wide variety of "adventures" with his family, ranging from watching his grandchildren play sports to snorkeling in Mexico.

Even though he suffered many health issues in his later years, he still enjoyed cheering on the Michigan Wolverines with Steve, telling ghost stories around the bonfire, partaking in an intense game of bean bags, sweating in the sauna and working on crossword puzzles while watching the sun set at Lake Gogebic. Jim made the most of every moment.

He was also an avid and unapologetic animal lover who supported a wide variety of animal rescue operations. He not only faithfully served on the HOPE Animal Shelter board of directors, but he also willingly and fully opened his heart and home to many dogs in need throughout his lifetime.

In his own words: "My most important priorities in life were my Christian faith, my family, and my friends. I was richly blessed by the Lord."

We were richly blessed by him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Barney and Luella Salmi. He is survived by his son, Scott Salmi; and daughter, Michelle (Aaron) Haskins; sister, Jane (Dusty) Barclay; brother, Steve Salmi; six grandchildren, Sierra, Giavanna and Ilya Haskins, Devin Carlson, and Ethyn and Vanea Salmi; several nephews and extended family; and many dear friends.

A celebration of life will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Ironwood on Friday, July 2. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with the service following at 11 a.m. A luncheon will be held afterward. Come help us celebrate his life!

The family requests donations be directed to HOPE Animal Shelter or Trinity Lutheran Church, both in Ironwood.