James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

James Varsos, also known as “Hobo Jim,” poses for a photo during the August 2016, Funny River Festival in Funny River, Alaska, in August 2016. (Peninsula Clarion file)

‘Hobo’ Jim opens up about recent terminal cancer diagnosis

Varsos was named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

KENAI — James Varsos, better known to Alaskans as singer-songwriter Hobo Jim, announced over the weekend that he has been given less than a year to live after being diagnosed with end-stage cancer.

The performer, who resides on the Kenai Peninsula, wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he had been experiencing “intense pain” during the Alaska State Fair at the beginning of the month. After traveling to play a few more gigs in the Lower 48, Varsos was hospitalized in Nashville, Tennessee.

“After three days of pricks, pokes and probes I was diagnosed with end stage cancer,” he wrote on Facebook. “The cancer (which I didn’t know I had) had spread through my system and had several very large tumors.”

Doctors gave Varsos three to six months to live, he said.

The singer-songwriter has recorded multiple albums throughout his career and has collaborated with artists such as Reba McEntire, Ricky Nelson and Randy Travis, according to Travel Alaska. Varsos was also named Alaska’s official “state balladeer” in 1994.

The performer spent many years working in Alaska as a fisherman, logger and a cowboy, according to his Facebook biography, before taking up music.

“I would like to say I am not afraid,” Varsos wrote on Facebook after his diagnosis. “It is, however, very hard to feel the pain of those I leave behind, especially that of my beautiful wife of 42 years.”

He wrote that he has had a blessed life up until this point.

“I have been able to make a living making people happy,” Varsos wrote. “I have seen a great deal of the world and all in all, life has been grand and fulfilling. Keep me in your hearts Alaska as you will be forever in mine.”

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Most Read