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James D. ‘Big Jim’ Hannah

On Good Friday, April 14, 2017, it was late in the evening when James Delano Big Jim Hannah, 83, Romney, lost his battle with cancer but saw victory as he left his earthly life to spend Easter with Jesus in heaven.

Known for his great storytelling, sense of humor, gentlemanly ways, black cowboy hat and willingness to help anyone in need, Jim was born at home in Roanoke, Va. on July 14, 1933.

He left Roanoke at the age of eight, when his parents moved north to Baltimore in search of work. He grew up in Berkshire playing street ball and sharing his love of Jesus Christ with the neighborhood guys. He attended Sparrows Point High School, but left before graduating to join the Navy at the age of 17. He spent the Korean War years in occupied Japan. During that time he received many letters from a high school friend, who he had met while on the newspaper staff. That began a love story that transcended death as even after her passing in 2011, Jim would tell anyone who would listen about the love of his life, wife and mother of his four children, Martha. Jim was a police officer and security guard by trade. He walked a beat in the steel town of Sparrows Point, Md. until the higher ups at Bethlehem Steel recognized his great people skills and moved him into the office. There he may have seemed a mere receptionist but the fallacy of that was very clear the day a distraught employee who’d been let go turned sniper. Jim single handedly brought the man in without firing a shot.

Jim was a great family man, always willing to sacrifice his own plans or hobbies for his wife, girls and son. Lots of days were spent together at the Baltimore Zoo, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Fort McHenry, and Baltimore waterfront not because they were Jim’s favorite pastimes, but because he and Martha wanted their children to have a vast array of experiences. Jim was an active member of Our Lady of Hope Church and prayer groups in Baltimore and equally active in Romney’s Our Lady of Grace. He was a Knight of Columbus, an active volunteer at the Vineyard Home where his son Jimmy lived for many years, and both the Maryland and West Virginia Special Olympics. Jim was an active member of the Dundalk Jaycees while in Baltimore and was responsible for bringing new members into the organization, who carried on his good work when he moved to West Virginia. As a Knight, he was awarded the West Virginia Layperson of the Year in 2010. After moving to West Virginia, Jim worked for many years at Winchester Medical Center as a security guard and later as head of night security. Many a nurse there would tell you she felt safer accessing her car at night because Jim took time to escort her to her vehicle. At Winchester Medical Center, Jim once again used his wonderful people skills to deescalate unruly patients and to see that staff and patients alike were safe and received the care they needed.

After retirement from Winchester Medical Center, Jim worked for the Committee on Aging in the Meals on Wheels program and as a driver. Chemotherapy treatments in 2006 and 2007 resulted in Jim having neuropathy in his legs so he reluctantly resigned from Committee on Aging, but then joined the organization as a board member. Jim spent the last years of his life faithfully caring for his son Jimmy and watching Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Blue Bloods with his daughter Lynn. He was an avid sports fan especially when it came to his Baltimore Orioles and Ravens. Jim was happiest when his daughters in Baltimore and Connecticut could come with their spouses and daughters for a visit because from the beginning of his life to the very end, Jim was a family man. His family and friends rejoice that he is at peace from the pain of cancer and at home with Jesus, while wishing they’d see his tall, cowboy hatted frame coming in the door.

Surviving are his son, James M. Jimmy Hannah of Romney; 3 daughters, Barbara Chapolini and husband Bob and their daughter Elizabeth of Baltimore, Beth Warweg and husband Tim and daughter Emily of Connecticut, and Lynn Adams of Romney. Jim is also survived by a sister and 2 brothers who he saw regularly and many nieces and nephews. There will be no visitation. Jim donated his body to WVU medical science. A funeral Mass in celebration of his life and entrance into heaven is tentatively set for the afternoon of Friday, April 28, at Our Lady of Grace Church in Romney. For details, call the family or church.

A funeral Mass in celebration of the life and entrance into heaven will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28, at Our Lady of Grace Church in Romney.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Hampshire County Special Services Center or Hospice of the Panhandle.

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