Nelson County, Virginia
By Tommy Stafford
I’d seen Jim Purvis long before I knew Jim Purvis. Around 1999 when visiting Nelson Jim, or JP as I ended up knowing him, would be seated in the old Truslow’s Auto Repair and Restaurant in Nellysford, almost every single morning. It was the hotspot for breakfast back in those days.
Jim was a longtime licensed electrician and plumber here in the Nelson area. He’d often grab something to eat at Truslow’s before heading out the door to begin jobs for the day. I’d see him in there having breakfast but didn’t know who he was.
I finally met Jim and became acquainted with him around the year 2000. We hadn’t yet moved to Nelson yet but stayed here several times a year at the old Meander Inn B & B. Jim often did plumbing working there and we’d cross paths on our stays. I actually helped JP pull an old well there one afternoon. It was hard work for both of us, about 300 feet deep, but it was a great day hanging out and talking to him.
Over the years Jim became more than just a professional in our lives. He became a friend. No, we didn’t have supper with one another or go on vacations together, but we developed a mutual friendship where he’d often stop in for coffee at our old home in Greenfield along 151. Years later he’s stop by the farm here in Roseland too for that morning cup on his way to another job. Even when he’d be coming to our house to fix something he would joke, “Make sure my coffee is ready when I get there.”
Jim died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer. He had his good days, many of them since he was diagnosed years ago, but it ultimately got him. He’s joined by another very dear friend that departed way too soon, Jeff Goff. Jeff was another plumber and close friend that left us back in 2017.
Jim & Jeff were two different people. Different styles, but a dying breed of what I call gentlemen plumbers, electricians, contractors and the like. I loved them both like family.
Jim Purvis’ final years weren’t the kindest. He tragically lost his wife Diane in a horrible tractor accident just 2 years ago in August of 2018. I vividly remember him calling my wife Yvette that evening telling her, “Diane is gone.” It was like we were hit by a truck.
The next morning Yvette went over to Jim’s with one of his favorites, sausage and biscuits from Graves Grocery. She just went to be with him, to listen. To walk. To talk.
Jim eventually rebounded and bought a new tractor. He bought a small camper and began getting back out in spite of all of the curve balls life threw at him. He started coming by for coffee again every now and then. Some of the old Jim was returning, as was some new Jim exploring life alone once again.
I knew something was up several weeks ago. I mentioned to Yvette, “You know I haven’t seen Jim lately and he’s not even on Facebook these days. Wonder if he’s out in that camper somewhere traveling?” Little did I know Jim was in his final days, his final hours.
Those final hours came last week on October 1, 2020. I found out through a dear friend, Diane Givens, that shared the news.
I didn’t know Jim as well as some others. But Yvette and I considered Jim a friend. I will miss seeing that Dodge truck pull down the driveway, the knock on the door of the farmhouse here and that voice yelling, “Tommy you got my coffee ready yet?”
Anytime JP, anytime, and tell Jeff I have one for him too 🙂
See you on the other side my friend.