Obituaries » James Hunter Snell, Jr.
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March 30, 1925 - May 14, 2020
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James Hunter “Jim” Snell Jr., 95, passed from this life to the next on May 14, 2020. Jim was born in Fayetteville, Tennessee, the son of James Hunter Snell Sr. and Ruth Stewart Snell. He was predeceased by his parents, his wife Minnie Kelly Snell, his daughter Carol Gumprich (John), his infant sister Lois, his infant brother Stewart, his sister Anna Snell Hallman, his brother David Thomas Snell, and special nephew Stewart Hallman. He is survived by his son Larry (wife Hope and daughter Laura) and his son Charles (wife Lori and sons Jake, Ryan, and Thomas), nieces Janice Hallman, Diana Hallman, Lois Snell, and nephew David Snell Jr.
Jim’s father was a pastor in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and the family served several locations during his formative years. Jim lived most of his childhood years in Lexington, Virginia, which he dearly loved. He shared many stories about Whistle Creek and his best friend “Bug” Lackey. Later the family moved to Unity Church, South Carolina where he finished high school. Jim was an outstanding student who attended Washington and Lee University, the University of Tennessee, and Tulane University. He enrolled in the wartime U.S. Navy V-12 program at Tulane, and in 1945 graduated in electrical engineering. While at Tulane, Jim and Francis Favaloro, his friend and classmate, owned a leaky sailboat named “The Interruption”. They sailed on Lake Pontchartrain on weekends, and the local Coast Guard station often pumped out their hull to keep them from sinking. Jim graduated from the U.S. Navy Midshipmen’s School in New York City, and after duty on the USS Salerno Bay, left active service when World War II ended.
Jim married the love of his life Minnie May Kelly in 1948 in Charlotte, NC. They moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts for Jim to work for General Electric and started their family. Jim made his mark as an electrical engineer with GE in the design of lightning arrestors and power transformers, receiving several patents for his designs. In 1962 he took an opportunity to work for the HK Porter Company, which later became Delta Star, in Lynchburg, Virginia as a transformer and lightning arrestor engineer. Jim was an extremely talented and hardworking engineer who was respected by all who worked with him. Jim retired in 1990 from Delta Star and always spoke fondly of his colleagues there. He very much enjoyed going back to visit at company picnics and Christmas celebrations held for employees and retirees.
Jim enjoyed playing bridge with Minnie and friends during his days in Pittsfield, later with friends in Lynchburg, and then with his good friends at the Summit in Lynchburg where he lived from 2003 to 2013. He loved to play golf, starting off in 1962 at the now defunct Cedar Hills Golf Course. After retirement, he joined London Downs when it first opened, where he loved playing with the seniors there. Jim often talked with joy about London Downs friends such as “Pokey” Hobbs, Herbert Figg, and Howard Austin. He went on many golf trips to the North Carolina Sandhills and to Myrtle Beach with his London Downs friends. He taught both of his sons to play golf at Cedar Hills, which made for some great memories for the boys. He and one of his sons played Cedar Hills on the last day it was open before the limestone quarry shut it down for good. During his retirement years, he was proud of having scored two holes-in-one at London Downs. One of his favorite and most memorable golf trips was to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama in 1999, where he went with his brother David just before David’s passing.
Jim was also an avid gardener with an eye for flowers, color, and a talent for growing vegetables. He delighted in growing tomatoes from seed, and always had a goal of eating his first German Johnson tomato sandwich by July 4. Keeping Mr. Squirrel out of the corn by various ingenious and stealthy means kept him busy.
Jim never ceased to apply his math and logic skills. He enjoyed doing difficult crossword and Sudoku puzzles. In retirement he was sometimes aggravated by the hardest Sudoku puzzles, so he decided to write a computer program to solve them. Problem solved, there was never again another Sudoku puzzle that would stump him.
Jim seemed stern to some, but he was a generous and caring person who was just a man of few words. He was a terrific father to his children and grandpa to his grandchildren. Jim was very proud of his grandchildren and helped them achieve their academic goals at Yale (2 grandchildren), Harvard, and Penn State. He supported many charitable causes.
The family would like to thank the caregivers who helped Jim through the last years when his health declined. Special thanks to Kim Bateman who faithfully supported Jim at home and when he was in a nursing home. During the past year the Bedford County Nursing Home provided outstanding care to Jim, and the family is especially grateful for the support of nurse, Taylor Boyd, aide Ashley Andrews, and many others.
A graveside service will be held for Jim at Virginia Memorial Park on at Monday, May 18, 2020 at 1:00p.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, there will not be a visitation held. At a later date when there are fewer restrictions for group events, a memorial gathering will be planned for family and friends.
If you wish to honor Jim, please consider contributing to the Salvation Army, 2215 Park Ave, Lynchburg, VA 24501 in lieu of flowers.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.