All Plumbers Go To Heaven – R.I.P. My Friend, Jim Purvis

Nelson County, Virginia
By Tommy Stafford

Photo By Tommy Stafford : Jim Purvis in February 2005 during a photoshoot for the charter issue of our magazine that launched in April of that year.

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.

The old Truslow’s Auto Repair & Restaurant in Nellysford, Virginia. Photo By Yvette Stafford circa mid to late 90s.

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. 

Photo By Tommy Stafford : JP in front of Basic Necessities in Nellysford, Virginia. Jim was on the cutting edge of bringing solar into Nelson long before it had become trendy. Here he is October 2008 converting the sign from regular electrical power to solar. It was one of many helped go solar along the way.

Years later JP invented his to-go portable solar boxes that made it possible for anyone to have a quick source of electricity powered by solar energy. In this 2013 story in our magazine (Blue Ridge Life) he demonstrated how the boxes worked.

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 will always hold a special place in our hearts. He was one of the articles in our very first issue of then, Nelson County Life in April 2005. Few knew about Jim’s fantastic talent as a sketch artist.

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. 

The late Jeff Goff of Faber, VA on the phone during a story we did on frozen pipes in February 2015. Jeff was another beloved plumber that left us way too soon at the age of 53. Here’s a link to the story we did with Jeff on the frozen pipes 5 years ago.

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. 

Yvette in Jim’s kitchen during our story with him for the April 2005 inaugural issue. The was shot in February of that year.

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. 






About tommystafford

Recovering from life as TV news reporter. Airplane & helicopter pilot. Weather guesser. Farmer. Trail runner, dad & husband living in the beautiful Central Virginia Blue Ridge mountains!
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