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James P. Harnsberger

James P. Harnsberger

IRVINGTON—Dr. Jim Harnsberger of Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury passed away quietly on April 7, 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, Ga.; 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 World War II.

After the war, Jim practiced medicine for the oil drilling operations and the Native American communities in the rural outposts of Poplar, Mont., and Fall River Mills, Calif., 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 and Kilmarnock, 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 in memory of James Power Harnsberger.

A “Celebration of Dr. Jim Harnsberger” memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Currie Funeral Home LLC of Kilmarnock handled the arrangements.

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