James Jennings, the longtime owner of and an Essex community activist for decades, died Thursday. He was 82.
Jennings had been in declining health for several years, said his grandson, State Sen. J.B. Jennings. He retired from the business, which has been in Essex for 54 years, about 25 years ago.
"Everyone in Essex knows Jim Jennings Transmission and everyone knew my grandfather," Sen. Jennings said. "He will be missed."
James A. Jennings was born on June 22, 1929 in Wilkes County, N.C. He moved to the Essex-Middle River area in 1950 to take a job as a machinist at the
In 1958, he founded Jim's Automatic Transmission Services on Martin Boulevard. Sen. Jennings said his grandfather moved the business three times as the company grew. Now in its 54th year, Jim Jennings Transmission is still family-owned with his sons Gary and Bill running the business.
Through the years, James Jennings enjoyed doing many outdoor activities with his family, including go-kart and drag racing, along with snowmobiling. After retiring, Sen. Jennings said, his grandfather spent time with his children grandchildren and great grandchildren while also working on various family rental properties.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia Dare Jennings; sons Gary Ken and Bill Jennings; grandchildren J.B. Jennings, Jared Jennings. Jennifer Jennings Janson, Megan Jennings Gsvind, Heather Jennings; along with five great grandchildren.
Visitation for the family will take place from 3-5 p.m. Saturday at. This will be followed by a private cremation service.
A full obituary can be found on the Bruzdzinski Funeral Home website.
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