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Howard Arthur Sivertson (Bud, Buddy) age 92, died on January 4, 2023 at the Silver Bay Veterans Home. He was born on May 31, 1930 in Duluth, Minnesota to parents, Arthur and Myrtle Sivertson. He is survived by his wife Elaine Schmidt Sivertson of 39 years, Grand Marais, and his children: Jan Sivertson, Grand Marais; Jeff Sivertson (Sue), Duluth; and Liz Sivertson, Grand Marais; his grandchildren: Chris Sivertson (Ashley), Grand Marais; Anne Sivertson, Superior, Wisconsin; step grandchildren: Clay Gruber (Kia), Grand Marais; Lily Gruber-Schulz, Thunder Bay, Ontario; great grandchildren: Sam and Steve Sivertson, Grand Marais; and step great grandchild, Louie Gruber, Grand Marais. Preceded in death are his first wife, Doris Sivertson (mother of Jan, Jeff and Liz), his parents Arthur and Myrtle Sivertson, his sister and brother in law, Betty and Enar Strom, and his nephew, Todd Strom.
Howard graduated from Denfeld High School, then from Minneapolis School of Art (now called Minneapolis College of Art and Design); served in the Navy, stationed in Hawaii; and also attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
He was born into a commercial fishing family of Isle Royale, spending summers on Isle Royale and attending school in Duluth in the winters. He worked on the lake fishing with his father Arthur and his uncle Stanley from a very early age. Howard got sea sick, so suffered this life.
Howard began telling the story of his Isle Royale experiences when he discovered on his first day of kindergarten that he couldn’t relate to the other children’s stories. The teacher asked them all to share their experiences from their summer, so Howard (Buddy) went to the blackboard to draw the scenes of his life at Isle Royale. He filled the blackboard which wrapped around the room with illustrations containing all the details of commercial fishing, the people, the animals, etc. that he had witnessed. Thus began Howard’s favorite way to communicate: through art and illustration.
He married Doris Lindbeck in 1952 and shortly afterwards entered the Navy, stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii. As he was standing in line to receive his orders, a higher-ranking person walked down the line with a T-square in search of someone who knew what it was. Howard did, due to his art and design training and therefore became an artist for the Navy, doing cartoons, various graphics, and painting portraits of high-ranking officers. Howard and Doris had their first child, Jan, in 1953 in Hawaii. They returned to Duluth where Jeff was born in 1956 and Liz in 1959. Howard supported the family by doing commercial art, sometimes for an agency, and sometimes free-lance.
In 1971, Howard and Doris divorced and Howard retreated to a primitive 1 room cabin in the woods in Brimson, Minnesota, where he could focus essentially on his painting. He emerged after 3 years, took a long solo boundary waters canoe trip, and as he came out of the woods, he took an interest in Grand Marais. He bought a house in Grand Marias and started Sivertson Gallery with his daughter Jan. Howard quickly realized he just wanted to paint and Jan decided she wanted to run the business and moved the business downtown and began gathering artists from around the region, including artist(daughter) Liz Sivertson. Sivertson Gallery is still thriving 43 years later.
Howard, Doris, and their young children spent every summer at the family homestead on Washington Island on Isle Royale. This was the homestead that Howard’s grandparents, Severin and T’Dora Sivertson, fished from when they came from Norway in the early 1890’s. Their sons and son in law: Howard’s father Art Sivertson, Uncle Stanley Sivertson, Uncle Tom Eckel (Bertha Sivertson), and their families fished there as well. Howard’s Aunt Myrtle Sivertson, her husband Milford Johnson, and family fished at a different location: Crystal Cove, on the northeastern end of Isle Royale. Howard’s son, Jeff, continues to maintain the family legacy by restoring fish houses, wooden fishing boats, docks etc. as a volunteer in the park for Isle Royale National Park.
Howard began his first series ‘Once Upon an Isle’ in the early 80’s, which was published into a book. He met Janice Elaine Schmidt at the Grand Marais Art Colony and they married in 1983. Howard went on to paint the history of the region. Many of the scenes were recreations from Howard’s imagination and vast experience on Isle Royale and his many canoe trips into the Boundary Waters with his lifelong best pal, Earl Seymour. His dear friend Tim Cochrane helped him with many of the historical details and the paintings of these places are now considered history.
Howard completed several series (paintings and writings): Once Upon an Isle; The Illustrated Voyageur; Tales of the Old North Shore; and Schooners, Skiffs and Steamships.
A celebration of Howard Sivertson’s life will be held at Sivertson Gallery on Howard’s birthday, May 31, 2023. In honor of Howard’s sense of humor this event will be light and joyous. More details will be forthcoming.
Donations can be made to the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, North Shore Health, or North Shore Health Care Foundation in honor of the fine health care that Howard received throughout his life.
View Howard’s many prints from his long life of painting the North Shore, Isle Royale, and Lake Superior. Snapshots below give a glimpse of his spirited presence through the years.
Posted in: In Memoriam