Dr. James Parsons died Monday, July 17, 2017

Dr. James Sidney Parsons, 95, of Rapp’s Mill died Monday, July 17, 2017, in his beloved Rapp Home surrounded by his son, John Edward Parsons, and daughter, Ruth Anne Parsons.

He was born in 1922 in Roanoke to Lewis Edward Parsons and Beulah Rapp Parsons, and had one brother, William Wade “Billy” Parsons.

James graduated from Palmer Graded School in Rockbridge County and was valedictorian of his high school class. He earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from Washington and Lee University in 1943. He received the Mary Louise Reid Scholarship in Chemistry. Dr. Parsons earned masters and doctorate degrees in chemistry from the University of Virginia in 1950.

He worked as a principal research chemist at the American Cynamid Company, Bound Brook, N.J., where he met the love of his life, Eleanor Hutchins. They had two children:  John Edward Parsons and Ruth Anne Parsons residing in Bridgewater, N.J. Dr. Parsons’s research activities have included some of the newer electroanalytical techniques, particularly coulometric analysis. He was a deacon in New Jersey in the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church and a member of the Pluckemin Presbyterian Church. 

James was a cub scout leader, and John and he enjoyed the annual pinewood derbies. He played golf in Plattsburgh, N.Y., during his son’s first round of golf along with Dawn Hutchins Meiklejohn. James and John attended W&L and University of Virginia sporting events. About the time of his 40th reunion at W&L in 1985, he and Eleanor retired back to his mother’s home place in Rapp’s Mill. 

He was a member of the Oxford Presbyterian Church and trustee of Rapp’s Mill Church. As a member of the Palmer Community Center Board, he helped prepare applications for grants to support the Palmer Community Center Restoration Project. He served as Palmer historian, and in 2003, introduced then W&L President Tom Burish who gave the dedication address. As an Effinger Ruritan member, Dr. Parsons served as director and public service chairman, working on improvement of safety of secondary roads in Buffalo District. He was a lifetime member of the American Chemical Society and Blue Ridge Section.

James experimented with making water wheels as a hobby. He loved researching genealogy and local history at the court house in Lexington and the W&L Library Rare Book Room.  James and Eleanor hiked, gardened, canned, and volunteered in the community and at church. He was a voracious reader of Chemical Engineering magazines to keep his mind sharp. He celebrated his 95th birthday on January 28, 2017 and a special party was held at the House Mountain Inn one week prior. James attended the 42nd Annual Parsons Golf Opening Ceremonies at the Rockbridge Inn on Parsons Lane in Natural Bridge on July 6, 2017, on his daughter’s birthday. 

Surviving are his son, John Edward Parsons; daughter, Ruth Anne Parsons, both of Lexington; cousins the Rev. Dr. Louis Skidmore and Mildred “Millie” Parsons of Virginia; George (Russ) Parsons of Delaware; Mary Parsons Black and Anne Parsons Talkington of North Carolina; Pat Dickson Chapman of Wyoming and Nova Scotia; nephews: John, Don, James and Robert Hutchins of Washington; Alan and Richard DeFalco of New Jersey; David Smith of New York; nieces Dawn Meiklejohn, Janet Saeed, Colleen Norcott of Washington; Joan MacLeod of Maryland; Susan Behler of Michigan and Dr. Jane DeFalco of Missouri. James was predeceased by his parents, Beulah and Lewis Parsons his wife, Eleanor Hutchins Parsons, his brother, “Billy” Parsons, Cousins: George Parsons, Nancy Parsons Skidmore, Pete Parsons, and Virginia Parsons Funkhouser.

Deepest thanks to the Rev. Dr. Louis Skidmore, the Rev. Dr. Barton Hellmuth, Pastor Cliff Hall, Ben and Pat Chapman, Olivia Gibson, Dr. Jane DeFalco, Dr. John D. Sedovy, Dr. James Crews, Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Kosmas, Carilion Stonewall Jackson Emergency Room and Intrepid Hospice.

Visitation is from 1 to 2 p.m. followed by a memorial service from 2 to 3 on Saturday, July 22, at Rapp’s Church conducted by the Rev. Dr. Louis Skidmore, with the Rev. Barton Hellmuth and Pastor Cliff Hall.  Memorial contributions may be made Rapp’s Church Cemetery Fund c/o  Ruth Parsons 3293 South Buffalo Road, Lexington, VA. Arrangements are by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.

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