John M. Whitesell, 74, of Fairfield died June 10

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John Miley Whitesell, 74, husband of Joan (Snider) of Fairfield, died Monday, June 10, 2019 - their 52nd wedding anniversary.

He was attended by immediate family, including his special aunt, Marjorie Anne “Pook” Chittum; his uncle, Earl; and the caring staff at Augusta Health Care’s Shenandoah House in Fishersville.

John Miley was born in Brownsburg on July 18, 1944, to John Layton and Virginia (Wade) Whitesell.  A graduate of Rockbridge High and standout athlete who was Virginia’s 1962 high school Player of the Year, John went on to compete as a Virginia Tech Hokie on both the basketball and baseball teams and participated in Valley League Baseball as a player and coach.

A lifelong educator, coach and administrator, John’s tenure included high (Lexington, Parry McCluer), middle (Brownsburg, Parry McCluer) and elementary schools (Mountain View, Fairfield).  He took special pride in steering the 2001 renovation of Fairfield’s school and its water garden (later named in his honor) and retired three years later - affectionately referred to as “Pops” by the students there.

A faithful servant, John spent his life sharing God’s word in song with friends and family in the Good News Quartet and The Sounds of Victory.  In addition to his work in gospel music, John was an active member of Fairfield United Methodist Church and served his community on the Fairfield Rescue Squad, South River Fire Department and Rockbridge County’s Board of Supervisors and Economic Development Commission.

In addition to his wife, John is survived by his children, Terry (Shuntale) of Raleigh, N.C., Kris (Leisa) of Fairfield, and Greg (Kevin) of Charlotte, N.C.  He’ll also be missed by his grandchildren, Joseph and Kriston Whitesell of Fairfield; Caleb, Kaitlin and Abby Whitesell and their mother, Heidi, of Raleigh, N.C.; his brother, Richard (Joan) of Rockbridge Baths; paternal aunt “Pook” and uncle Earl of Fishersville; maternal aunts Mary Frances Poole, Bernice Nye and Ruth Beard; and a number of nephews, nieces and cousins.  John was preceded in death by his parents.

A come-as-you-are celebration of John’s life will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, at the Fairfield Elementary School gym.  The Rev. Valerie Ritter will officiate. The family will receive friends following the service with a cookie reception (in honor of John’s infamous sweet tooth) in the school cafeteria. Private burial in the Fairfield Cemetery will precede the service.

To honor John’s legacy of education and community, the family has established a scholarship in his name.  In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to Rockbridge County High School - John M. Whitesell Memorial Scholarship Fund at attn: Lisa Miller, 143 Greenhouse Road, Lexington, VA 24450. 

Arrangements are by Harrison Funeral Home & Crematory.

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