James Wilson Pennell, Sr.

July 11, 1924 ~ March 19, 2020 (age 95)


Mr. James Wilson Pennell, Sr.

July 11, 1924 – March 19, 2020

Mr. James Wilson Pennell, Sr., age 95 passed away peacefully at his skilled nursing facility in Charlotte, NC, and was welcomed into Heaven on Thursday evening, March 19, 2020.  Mr. Pennell lived independently at his home in Wilkes County in the Millers Creek, NC community of Green Acres until he was almost 92 years old, when he suffered combined ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, resulting in his need for care in a skilled nursing facility.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 PM Sunday, March 22, 2020 at Reins-Sturdivant Chapel with Rev. Brady Hayworth officiating.  Burial will be in Scenic Memorial Gardens, Moravian Falls, NC.  

Mr. Pennell was a devoted and loving husband, father, family man, successful businessman, and friend to all who knew him.  His down-to-earth, loving, and sweet nature, easy-going demeanor, great sense of humor, generosity, and warm personality will be missed by all who knew him. 

He was the third of thirteen children born to Everett and Bessie Price Pennell on July 11, 1924 in Wilkesboro, NC.  He married the love of his life and teenage sweetheart, Virginia Mae Mash at age 19, after meeting at the Wilkes General Hospital in Wilkesboro, where she was a nurse, and after only a six-month courtship.  They lived out their life-long love story for almost 65 years, until she passed in 2008.  James and Virginia began their life together in Moravian Falls, NC in 1944, and operated together for 40 years their Jeep dealership, Pennell Motor Company, which relocated to Wilkesboro, NC during that time.  Mr. Pennell loved and valued his customers as much as they loved him, and until he had a stroke, he could name everyone he had sold a Jeep to during his career, and the year they purchased it!    

Even though Mr. Pennell loved the auto business and being a business owner, his greatest passion was his three children and four grandchildren.  He is survived by his children, James W. Pennell Jr. and his wife, Jewel Pennell of Winston-Salem, NC; Zorrest Pennell Millman, of Atlanta, GA; Zolorest Pennell Brennan and husband, Marty Brennan of Huntersville, NC; grandchildren, Zalinia Cole, her husband, Patrick Cole, and their children, Olivia and Mackenzie of Cuyahoga Falls, OH; Michael Brennan of Nashville, TN; Meleigha Millman of Atlanta, GA; and Martin Millman of Savannah, GA.  He is also survived by his siblings, Iva Lee Pennell Watson, Annie Faye Pennell Pearson, and Jeanette Pennell Billings, all of Boomer, NC, several nieces and nephews, and his trusted four-legged companion, Rusty, a faithful Boston Terrier.  In addition to his parents and wife, he is also preceded in death by his son-in-law, Martin Millman of Atlanta, GA, and nine siblings. .      

Mr. Pennell was a member of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Wilkesboro, NC.  He began every morning with his daily prayers, coffee, and enjoying breakfast with Rusty.  Mr. Pennell was a passionate animal lover, and over the years owned many horses, ponies, cattle, dogs, cats, and rabbits.  He took great pride in the beautiful jars of honey he canned during several years of his hobby as a beekeeper.   In addition to Mr. Pennell’s passions for his family, animals, and his Jeep business, he loved the mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway, nature, fishing, gardening, Bluegrass music, classic cars, antiques, snow, Christmas, country style food, watermelon, ice cream, apple pie, and chocolate and coconut cake!   

May James rest in peace with Virginia in Heaven for all eternity.

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Funeral Service
March 22, 2020

2:00 PM
Reins-Sturdivant Chapel
270 Armory Road
North Wilkesboro, NC 28659

Interment following funeral service
March 22, 2020

Scenic Memorial Gardens Cemetery
545 Moravian Falls Road
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

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