Family, friends hold event for ND native Halvorson killed in 9/11 attacks

By Kevin Bonham Grand Forks Herald

Jim Halvorson

Jim Halvorson

A special memorial service will be held Friday in Devils Lake for James Halvorson, a 1963 Devils Lake High School graduate who was killed in the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York.

Family members will present a plaque in Halvorson’s honor to Devils Lake Superintendent Scott Privatsky and other school officials in a 12:30 p.m. ceremony at Central Middle School, which was the high school when he graduated.

The public is invited.

Halvorson’s family also is establishing a scholarship program to benefit the Devils Lake Public School music program.

“He traveled the world for his work insuring large construction projects, work that sometimes included dodging bullets in Middle Eastern countries. But on September 11, 2001, Jim was sitting at his desk in the World Trade Center when planes hit the Twin Towers, killing Jim and 2,751 [sic – 2,748] others,” said Becky Jones-Mahlum, a first cousin who lives in Bismarck.

Halvorson, 56, was managing director of Marsh & McLennan Cos.’ Global Infrastructure Group. His office was on the 99th floor of the second tower. His son, Doug, worked for the same company but in a different building in a different part of Manhattan.

“I saw it happen. It was catastrophic,” he said. “When the first plane hit, it didn’t look good, but we all held out hope. But when the second plane hit, you knew it was pretty obvious.”

Love of music

Jim Halvorson was the son of Art and Evelyn (Jones) Halvorson of Devils Lake.

Besides being an outstanding student, Halvorson was a drummer of note in the Devils Lake Marching Band, which at the time had been designated the Governor’s Band. It represented the state in events around the state and larger region, according to Connie Weed, of Fargo, a first cousin who grew up in Devils Lake and was the same age as Halvorson.

“Jim grew up with music,” she said, adding that his father and an uncle were members of a touring barbershop quartet.

“He was a fun-loving guy,” she said. “Everybody loved being around him.”

He also rode horse[s] competitively when he was young.

After high school, Jim attended college in North Dakota for a couple of years before transferring to the University of Montana. After working in St. Louis for a short while, he moved to New York, where he climbed the corporate ladder at Marsh & McLennan, traveling the world to provide insurance and other services to the energy and infrastructure industry.

The family visited North Dakota often, until the death of his father in 1997. His mother then moved in with family in Vermont. She died last November.

Jim’s widow, Maureen, and son, Doug, will be among the speakers Friday.

“I’m going to say how humbled he’d be to have the school and the town remember him,” Doug said. “Even though he moved away a long time ago, North Dakota has been very special to him.”

The family has established a scholarship fund to support the music program at Devils Lake Public Schools. Donations to the fund can be made through the Devils Lake School Foundation.

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