Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Obituary Archives

April 23, 2013

Robert Ira Jessee

WEYANOKE — Robert Ira Jessee, loving husband of Nancy Elizabeth Thomason Jessee, father of three, grandfather of four, great-grandfather of two and friend of thousands, died April 21, 2013 in a Richlands hospital. He would have been 92 years old in July.

Bob had retired in 1986 as general manager of the Permac, Inc., coal preparation facility at Page in Buchanan County. He had worked for Permac and its predecessor companies, Universal Coal Co. and Paragon Jewel Coal Co., since 1949.

Bob was born in Richlands on July 25, 1921, the son of  Ira Taze Jessee  and Virginia Tempy Branson Jessee. When his mother died six weeks after his birth, Bob was taken in by John W. Joyce and Nancy Alice Joyce, who raised him as their own son. They were, Bob wrote, “Two wonderful people to whom I owe my life.”

Bob graduated from Richlands High School in 1939, having completed all 11 years without missing a day of school. He continued his education at Emory and Henry College, where he received a degree in mathematics in 1948.

He took five years off from college to serve in the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. He was a ground-crew chief for a B-17 bomber based in England.

Bob was a member of First United Methodist Church in Richlands and served terms on the church board. One of his greatest regrets was that his health prevented him from going to church on a regular basis over the last few years.

He was a member and past Worshipful Master of Richlands Masonic Lodge 318. He was active in Tri-County Independent Coal Operators Association and the National Independent Coal Operators Association.

In retirement, Bob discovered golf. Because he had the mindset of a civil engineer, a golf shot was just another engineering problem to be analyzed and solved. He managed two holes-in-one in his brief golf career.

Bob and Lib and their friends spent many happy days on the fairways and greens of Wolf Creek Golf Course in Bland County. He helped develop the course's youth program and its weekly senior day. When he could no longer play, he enjoyed going to the course just to see his friends.

Bob was preceded in death by his mother, Virginia Tempy Branson Jessee; his father, Ira Taze Jessee; his foster parents, John W. Joyce and Nancy Alice Joyce; his stepmother, Opal E. Jessee; his foster brother, Robert E. Joyce; his foster sister, Mavis M. Morgan; his brother, Clarence Howard Jessee; his sisters, Allie Mae Wilson and Lola Kennedy Howard; and his half-brother, John Taze Jessee.

Bob is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nancy Elizabeth Thomason Jessee. In notes in his personal papers, Bob wrote, “She has been the love and the life of me during the many years of our marriage.”

Other survivors are a daughter, Nancy Alice Jessee Henderson of Richlands, and her husband, Dean; two sons, Robert Thomason Jessee of Holden Beach, N.C., and his wife, Janice, and James Randolph Jessee of Glen Allen, Va., and his wife, Leslie-Jean.

Also, four grandchildren, Patrick Randolph Jessee of Purcellville, Va., and his wife, Stacy; Kelley Erin Jessee of Falls Church, Va.; Christopher Matthew Jessee of Roanoke, and his fiancé, Brandy Gray; and Kristen Elizabeth Henderson Jackson of Council, and her husband, Neil. Also, two great-grandchildren, Tyler Warren Jessee and Claire Elizabeth Jessee, both of Purcellville, Va.

Also, special caregivers, Judy Stilwell, Angel Stilwell and Barb Coleman; and his close friends, Pierce Davidson, Ray Ryan, Don Dean, Bill Bandy, Larry Peery, Dave Jessee, Robert Lane, Ken Hogston, Danny Cochran and Rod Cury.

A celebration of his life will be held at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts may be made to First United Methodist Church of Richlands; Emory and Henry College; or a favorite charity.

Hurst-Scott Funeral Home in Richlands, Virginia is in charge of the arrangements and those wishing to express sympathy online may do so at

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