Meet Joyce and Jim Holter
Fascinated with the past—and living a full life
If you want to know anything about the 70-foot, world-famous Hjemkomst (Homecoming) Viking Ship or the replica Hopperstad Stave Kirke (church), Jim would be delighted to take you on a tour of The Hjemkomst Center, where he is a docent.
If you’d like to know more about genealogy and how to use a computer to research and record your own family history, Joyce is your expert.
On any given day, you could also find Joyce baking her special bread that the grandchildren call Grandma Bread or working on her computer helping
update the Touchmark resident story album. Jim is just as busy, practicing with the Touchmark choir and volunteering at Touchmark’s convenience store.
Their cottage home is inviting, warmly decorated to reflect their Scandinavian heritage.
To Fargo—and back again
Joyce was born and raised in Kindred, a small town in the same county as Fargo. She and Jim met at North Dakota State University, where Jim completed his undergraduate degree.
The couple soon married and moved to Ames, Iowa, where Jim earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University. While he was taking classes, Joyce worked in Student Services, learning to use a computer and build databases, a skill she has used her entire life.
After graduating in 1957, the couple moved to Casselton, North Dakota, where Jim was a practicing veterinarian for 15 years. They then returned to Ames, and Jim started a 20-year tenure as a professor at Iowa State University.
Also in that timeline, the couple raised four children—two girls and two boys—all of whom eventually graduated from Iowa State University.
“We retired young,” Jim says. “I was 61, and Joyce was 57.”
Their own hjemkomst (homecoming) eventually led them back to Fargo. Joyce says, “When it came time for us to retire, we came home to what was really home to us.”
A long-planned move
When they first retired, though, the Holters bought a home on a lake in Minnesota.
“At that time,” Jim recalls, “I said to Joyce, ‘When I turn 80, we’ll think about doing something different. And she held me to it!”
So when Jim turned 80, Joyce reminded her husband of his promise. “By that time,” Jim says, “I was getting tired of maintaining the lake home, mowing the lawn, taking care of the boat and dock … ”
Joyce continues. “When Touchmark had an open house, we went to look at their cottages.” And they both liked what they saw.
“Now,” says Joyce, “whenever we go and visit other folks in the community, we always come home and say, ‘Oh, we have the best place!'”
Jim adds, “We’ve lived in many homes, and this is about the most comfortable that we’ve ever lived in.”
Joyce, the genealogist, adds, “And after we moved in here, I found out that I have three third cousins living here, too! I could show you exactly how we are related!”
Enjoying each day to its fullest
Because both are half Norwegian (Jim is also part Dane), it is only natural that Joyce and Jim volunteer at The Hjemkomst Center at least one day a week. Joyce works in the business office, using her many computer skills, while Jim is a docent, guiding visitors through the maze of Scandinavian history. Joyce and Jim have traveled extensively, including three trips to Norway.
Jim just performed with the Touchmark Choir at the historic Fargo Theater. He practices with them every week, and they perform at area schools, other retirement communities, for a local Kiwanis Club, and for other residents. “What’s so unique about our choir,” says Jim, “is that the members range in
age from 22 to 101!”
Joyce spends a lot of time on her computer. “I have had a computer on my desk since 1976.” She learned to build databases early on, which has proved indispensable for her genealogy work, which she has been doing for over 25 years.
Joyce and Jim enjoy people and are very involved in the Touchmark community. “We love sharing stories and histories and believe everyone has a story.”