By Gale Fiege Herald writer
LYNNWOOD — One of the top promoters of southern gospel music on the West Coast died March 14 in a car crash on Highway 9 just north of Arlington.
James Arneson, 64, of Lynnwood, was well known in the region, especially in the Assemblies of God community, as a founding member of the Crossroads Quartet. He sang bass in the barbershop-style gospel quartet.
On the evening of March 14, Arneson and his son Thory, 38, also of Lynnwood, were headed north on Highway 9 to the family’s hobby farm, when they were hit head-on by a car driven by Andrew Enderud, 31, of Lake Stevens. Enderud, who also died in the crash, crossed the center line, but the Washington State Patrol has not released the results of its investigation as to why.
Thory Arneson was released from Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on March 21 having suffered broken vertebrae, sternum and ribs.
“And a broken heart,” said his mother and Jim Arneson’s wife, Cheryl Arneson. “Thory loved his dad so much, as we all did.”
Thory and Jim were singing along to a Gaither Vocal Band gospel tape playing in the car when the crash occurred, Cheryl Arneson said.
“And then he met the Lord,” she said.
Dennis Kelly, a retired Everett policeman who lives in Arlington, grew up with Jim Arneson. They graduated together from Cascade High School in the mid-1960s.
“I had been waiting for Jim to retire to his little farm in Arlington,” Kelly said. “We had lots of fun as kids playing outside and fishing, and my family went to the church where Jim’s dad was the pastor. Some preachers’ kids can be wild hairs, but not Jim. He lived a great life, stood out for Christ and enjoyed his passion for singing.”
Her husband felt good about the fact that “he never touched a drop of alcohol his entire life,” Cheryl Arneson said.
After high school, Arneson considered going into the ministry as well, but he ended up selling car insurance. As a teenager Jim Arneson helped form the Crossroads Quartet with Cheryl’s father, Al Vogt of Edmonds.
“Jim always said he couldn’t preach,” Cheryl Arneson said. “But with his music, he offered mini sermons with musical notes wrapped around them.”
Her husband had a collection of thousands of records that spanned many decades and could be found in many rooms of their house, Cheryl Arneson said.
Jim Arneson began promoting gospel concerts in the mid-1960s, and kept singing in the Crossroads Quartet and later the Crossroads New Revival throughout Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and British Columbia.
“He wanted to share his passion for southern gospel music with the people of the great Northwest,” she said. “If they couldn’t go to the South to hear it, Jim decided to bring the South to them.”
Because of Arneson’s promotional work, many gospel groups from around the country began to tour in the West, “opening up a whole new world and musical culture,” she said.
Jim and Cheryl Arneson and their daughter Aimee, as the Arneson Family Revival, were still touring churches in the Northwest. They had been scheduled to sing the Sunday after the accident at a church in Mabton.
Jim Arneson was the eldest of six children of the Rev. Ted and Lola Arneson.
Jim and Cheryl Arneson raised six children: James “Jamey,” Thory, Joli, Corrie, Aimee and Zachery. Arneson also is survived by nine grandchildren.
Watch and listen to Arneson at http://tinyurl.com/ArnesonVideo.