Dr. James B. Larson


Dr. James Larson, 78, Bismarck, died August 15, 2019 at a Bismarck hospital. A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, August 20 at 1:00 p.m. at Bismarck Funeral Home.  Visitation will be held one hour prior to service. Burial will take place at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery. 

Physician, award-winning photographer, outdoor enthusiast, world traveler, writer, friend, husband, father, and grandfather.Those who had the privilege of knowing Dr. James Larson understand why his loss is felt so deeply among those who loved him most.

James Bruce Larson was born September 28, 1940 in Bagley, Minnesota to Dr. Leroy and Doris Larson.  The oldest of three sons, he formed close relationships with his two brothers, Dave and Richard, planning many trips with his youngest brother later in life, including many excursions to their beloved cabin at Pine Lake in northern Minnesota. 

Jim graduated from Bagley High School in 1958.  From 1958-1962, he attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he majored in Zoology.  From 1962-1966, he attended medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago.  He was an intern at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington from 1966-1967.  He then joined the US Air Force, 5th Bomb Wing, in Minot, North Dakota, from 1967-1970, where he was a flight surgeon and captain.  From 1970-1972, he was an Internal Medicine resident at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland, Oregon.  He completed his medical degrees with a fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota from 1972-1974.

In addition to being the only doctor in Clearwater County, Minnesota, Jim’s father Leroy was the doctor for the Great Northern Railroad.  This position enabled the family to travel by train to Glacier Park, Montana, when Jim was a teenager, where his lifelong love of trains, photography and the Montana outdoors first began.

Jim was a pioneer in his field of Allergy and Immunology.  He was one of the longest-practicing allergists in the country and one of the first to practice his specialty in Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota.  A devoted father, he chose Allergy as his profession so he could devote more time to his family.  He launched successful Allergy practices in Great Falls, Billings and Havre, Montana; Sheridan, Wyoming; and Bismarck, North Dakota.  In 1986, he joined the Q&R Clinic in Bismarck, which later led to positions with Med Center One and then Sanford.  

Humble, kind and compassionate, he was the best of men.  He embodied the finest values of his generation including a strong work ethic, care and compassion for others, honesty, integrity and humility.  Before retiring at the age of 78, he practiced medicine for a remarkable 51 years, including 30 years working with his dedicated nurse, Norma Roll, and in several cases, serving as physician for multiple generations of the same family.  A true gentleman, he wore a tie to work every day for those 51 years out of respect for his profession and his patients.

In Montana, he helped start Camp Huff and Puff for kids with asthma and allergies, where he was the volunteer physician for 10 years.  He also served as medical director of the American Lung Association in Montana. He took a personal interest in his patients, their lives and their families, even visiting them on their farms and ranches. To him, being a doctor was not about billable hours or making a lot of money.  It was about taking time to know his patients and providing them the absolute best care possible.  Extremely dedicated to his patients, he would not retire from practicing medicine until he found the perfect replacement in Dr. Jonathan Rodrigues, knowing his patients would be in good hands.  To ensure that his patients would be well-cared for after his retirement, he spent five months with Dr. Rodrigues going over each and every patient in detail.

He was a renaissance man before his time, quick with a sincere complement, witty remark or romantic gesture, and with many talents and interests.  He was an avid reader and he had the gift of writing, including developing a draft of a book that included many of his original poems.  He enjoyed hiking, skiing, and canoeing with his family, and spent countless hours exploring the mountains of Montana, Wyoming and Canada – his adventures chronicled in his award-winning nature photography.  Thanks to his keen intellect, he could recount the exact location of a lake, river or mountain range in photos he took more than 50 years ago.  

He had a love of adventure, traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada (his favorite was by train) and also abroad including the Caribbean, Europe, and Kenya, Africa.  He loved fine wines, good cigars, canoeing under a full moon, beach walks, collecting model trains, forecasting the weather, and spending time with family.  He loved watching football games with his daughters on a beautiful fall day at the University of Montana, and was particularly fond of his vinyl record collection, which he still played loudly on his original LP record player.

He is survived by his wife, Shannon; three daughters, Kristin Gruber (Carsten) of Ebersbach-Fils, Germany; Dr. Karin Larson-Pollock (Dr. Darren) of Mercer Island, Washington; and Kathrin Youngberg of Bismarck.  Stepsons Parker Endersbe of Minneapolis, and Trevor (Candace) Ell, Tanner (Missy) Ell, and Tyler (Kalene) Ell of Bismarck.  Grandchildren Annika, Kira and Liam Gruber of Ebersbach-Fils, Germany; Madison and Andrew Pollock of Mercer Island, Washington; and Nik and Alek Youngberg, Libby and Zoey Ell, Bentley and Bjerklie Ell, and Brenley and Oakley Ell of Bismarck.  Brother Dr. Rick Larson (Trina) of Melbourne, Florida, nephew Matthew, and nieces Sarah, Jenny, Catherine and families.

We’d like to thank Dr. Jim’s patients and staff over the years, including Sharon Johnson and Marilee Curry of Billings, the doctors he worked with and those who treated him, with special thanks to Dr. Hermina Fernandes and the Sanford 7th Floor Oncology Unit.  

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bismarck Cancer Center or the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.In remembrance of Jim, please take an extra moment to appreciate beautiful sunsets, live in the moment, and enjoy the “sand in your toes” on your next beach walk. 

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