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Jim Jennings Transmissions Founder Passes Away

The longtime Essex business owner, community activist and grandfather of state Sen. J.B. Jennings was 82.

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.

Stay with Patch for updates.

Ginger Long Jackson February 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Mr. Jennings, was one of the nicest man I ever knew. We uses to go to the stock car races with Mr. Jim, Gray, Kenny and Bill. He enjoyed have use teenager around and was a very good roll Modle for us. Rick, my brother Freddie, and myself enjoyed doing stuff with the Jennings family. I still can remember the Chevy. Car with the 409 engine. I voted for Sen. Jennings due to the fact he was from their family, and I knee he was raised with morals. Ginger Long Jackson
bennie darrell peterson March 04, 2012 at 07:09 PM
i too went to capilal drag strip with the jenning's in the early 70's when he and gary raced the 59 , 409 elcamino . then they built a 41 willy's coupe that i think kenny still owns. i went to school with bill and worked at the shop pulling and installing transmissions for a year or so. he was a family friend and all my relatives went to jim with their car troubles and transmission service. i wish i had stayed in touch i miss the days at the track with jim. he was a hero to me also. a great man. darrell peterson.

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