October 2, 2018 at 12:55 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Librarian, philanthropist Jim Arshem dies at 77
Jim Arshem, gay news, Washington Blade

Jim Arshem died earlier this year. He was a longtime supporter of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

James A. “Jim” Arshem, a career librarian at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a longtime supporter of LGBT causes, including the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, died June 13, 2018 at his apartment in Arlington, Va. He was 77.

His neighbor and friend, Jamie Shoemaker, said the cause of death was complications associated with diabetes.

Arshem was born and raised in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church and graduated from Washington High School, according to a write-up prepared by his family and published by the George Boom Funeral Home in Sioux Falls.

The write-up says he was active in high school in the Junior Red Cross, National Honor Society, drama and debate endeavors.

He graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and later received a master’s degree in science from the University of Nebraska, the family write-up says. It says he then completed the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Librarianship.

He worked for several years at the Denver Public Library before receiving a fellowship in Washington, D.C., to learn about patents and trademarks, the write-up says. It says he later accepted a job offer from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he worked as a librarian and carried out a number of specialized librarian related duties until his retirement.

“He enjoyed his travels with his ‘dog and pony’ show instructing libraries all over the world how to set up and use the Patent and Trademark Offices in Washington, D.C. from their own libraries,” the write-up says. “He enjoyed all the people he met along the way and all of his library friends and contacts and continued attending as many conferences as he could,” it says.

Neal Garver, one of Arshem’s D.C. friends, said Arshem was known by many in the D.C. LGBT community and was a generous financial supporter for a number of nonprofit organizations, including LGBT organizations.

“He was a major supporter of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington,” said Garver. “He attended every chorus rehearsal, performance, private and public event. He donated generously every year and bought blocks of 25 to 50 GMCW tickets to every performance as an extra means of support,” Garver told the Washington Blade.

Garver said Arshem gave tickets as gifts to his friends and others, some of whom could not afford the price of a ticket.

“Jim was a silent, humble philanthropist to several charities including many gay organizations, as well as the medical and musical community locally and elsewhere,” Garver said.

“He had several cameras and took many pictures of his work and travel,” the write-up by his family says.

Shoemaker, who says he has known Arshem for more than 30 years, said Arshem for many years took photos of Gay Men’s Chorus events and its performers.

A memorial service was held for Arshem at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls on July 9. A private burial was expected to take place at a later date at North Preston Lutheran Cemetery in Lake Preston, S.D.

A D.C. celebration of his life hosted by his sister and brother-in-law Joyce and Don Elbert is scheduled to take place on Sunday, Oct. 7, at Trio Bistro, 1537 17th St., N.W., from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Garver has asked that those interested in attending email him their RSVP at nealgarver@icloud.com.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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