James Wilson Pennell Sr., 95, passed away peacefully at his skilled nursing facility in Charlotte and was welcomed into heaven on Thursday evening, March 19, 2020.

Mr. Pennell lived independently at his home in Wilkes County in the Green Acres development in Millers Creek 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 were held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2020, at Reins-Sturdivant Chapel, with the Rev. Brady Hayworth officiating.  Burial was in Scenic Memorial Gardens in Moravian Falls.

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, easygoing demeanor, great sense of humor, generosity and warm personality will be missed by all who knew him.

He was the third of 13 children born to Everett and Bessie Price Pennell on July 11, 1924, in Wilkesboro. After a six-month courtship, he married the love of his life and teenage sweetheart, Virginia Mae Mash, at age 19 after meeting her at Wilkes General Hospital in North Wilkesboro, where she was a nurse. They lived out their lifelong love story for almost 65 years until she passed away in 2008.

James and Virginia began their life together in Moravian Falls in 1944, and, for 40 years, together operated their Jeep dealership, Pennell Motor Company, which relocated to Wilkesboro 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 wife, Jewel Pennell, of Winston-Salem, Zorrest Pennell Millman of Atlanta, Ga., and Zolorest Pennell Brennan and husband, Marty Brennan, of Huntersville; his grandchildren, Zalinia Cole and husband, Patrick Cole, and their children, Olivia and Mackenzie of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Michael Brennan of Nashville, Tenn., Meleigha Millman of Atlanta, Ga., and Martin Millman of Savannah, Ga.; his siblings, Iva Lee Pennell Watson, Annie Faye Pennell Pearson and Jeanette Pennell Billings, all of Boomer; several nieces and nephews; and his trusted four-legged companion, Rusty, a faithful Boston terrier.

In addition to his parents and wife, he was 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. 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, the 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.

Online condolences may be made at www.reinssturdivant.com.

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