James Harnsberger

James Power "Jim" Harnsberger

Friday, April 14th, 1922 - Monday, April 6th, 2020
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Dr. Jim Harnsberger of Rappahannock Westminster Canterbury passed away quietly on April 6, 2020, just one week shy of his 98th birthday. Jim was born on April 14, 1922 in Taichow, China, one of three sons and two daughters of Reverend Thomas Lyttleton Harnsberger and Agnes Woods, who were Presbyterian missionaries stationed in the central province of China. This intrepid missionary family lived on a modest houseboat that traveled up and down the Grand Canal to minister to several rural Chinese Christian congregations for two decades. Jim is survived by his sister Agnes Rogers of Denton Texas, his niece Peggy Harnsberger Vetterlein of Atlanta, and his five nephews Jim Rogers, and Tom, Ric, Doug and Steve Harnsberger. His dear lifelong friends, Betty and John Taliaferro of White Stone, have been Jim’s local family for decades and are recognized here as an integral part of the surviving Harnsberger family. Jim will be interred next to his predeceased wife, Ann Edwards, in the Kilmarnock Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery. Married for 56 years, Jim and Ann spent their years of retirement in their Indian Creek home in the Kilmarnock community. Dr. Jim was a beloved general practice physician who enjoyed his undergraduate years at William and Mary, took his medical training at the Medical College of Virginia, and served as a U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon, stationed at the U.S. Naval Facility in Argentia, Newfoundland for the last two years of WWII. After the war, Jim practiced medicine for the oil drilling operations and the Native American communities in the rural outposts of Poplar, Montana and Fall River Mills, California for two decades. In 1964 he and Ann returned to Virginia so that Jim could begin a new practice as the Medical Director of the Homestead in Hot Springs until 1987. When not attending to the constant influx of patients, Jim would entertain friends and Homestead guests with his barbershop style tenor harmony and his theatrical musical saw playing performances. Jim was also a masterful storyteller, a spellbinding raconteur who could move seamlessly between speaking in flawless Chinese Mandarin dialect and southern English. In his heart he was a dual citizen of Taichow, China and Kilmarnock, Virginia, a fusion of eastern and western influences that defies standard explanation. Jim was a healing physician, a ballad-singing troubadour, a storyteller, and everyone’s favorite toastmaster. All who were fortunate to be among his family and friends knew his delightful, full-on embrace of life. Friends and family who desire may make a memorial donation to the Kilmarnock Baptist Church, P. O. Box 99, Kilmarnock, VA 22482 in memory of James Power Harnsberger. A “Celebration of Dr. Jim Harnsberger” memorial service will be announced at a later date.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery
    303 South Main Street
    Kilmarnock, Virginia 22482
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


Donations are being accepted for: Kilmarnock Baptist Church.


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Frances H. Swope

Posted at 07:29pm
Jim and I were distant cousins. We met Jim and Ann during the time we lived in Millboro, VA, while my husband pastored the Windy Cove and Millboro Presbyterian churches. One memorable occasion was the evening we'd cooked a wild turkey for dinner and the Harnsbergers were our guests. Jim had not eaten wild turkey so he made sure to sample all parts of the turkey using his skills to meticulously carve the portions he wanted. He and Ann made every occasion when we were together a delightful time together. Frances Harnsberger Swope

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