John Harby Eells, age 79, passed away on Wednesday, June 15, 2022. John was born March 3, 1943.
Devoted and loving husband to Alice, father of Sara, Erin and Chris, father-in-law of James, Erin, and former father-in-law of Amberly, grandfather of Rebecca, Melissa, Evie, Abbie, Jessica, Wilson, Andy, Claire, and Maggie.
John was born in Walton, and from very early on, had a strong fascination with mechanical devices. Working with his hands and tinkering with anything mechanical was almost an obsession. In 1958, John’s family relocated to Charlottesville, Va. At age 16, he worked part time repairing watches at a local jewelry store. A graduate of Lane High School, he continued his education at the University of Virginia from 1961 to 1963 before taking a leave of absence to enlist in the Army. After completing his tour of duty in October 1966, John returned to Charlottesville and worked in the engineering department of Sperry Marine Systems as an engineering assistant while he attended classes at UVA part-time. It was during this time that he met the love of his life, Alice Clarity, and the two were married on June 29, 1968. That same year, John returned to UVA and completed the requirements for his B.S.M.E. degree and graduated in 1972. Upon graduation, John worked for Philip Morris in Richmond, Va., for the next 26 years. During this time, he owned a gift shop that provided watch and clock repair services, repaired watches for three retail jewelers and five pawnbrokers, started building his smoking pipe collection, refurbishing pipes, and began to make his own pipes under the name “John H. Eells.”
John was a modern-day renaissance man. He played guitar and harmonica, sang, drew, had a quiet confidence in all his extraordinary abilities and to those that loved him, knew he was the real Santa Claus. He was a member of MENSA, the Conclave of Richmond Pipe Smokers (C.O.R.P.S.), American Legion of Amelia, Manchester Masonic Lodge, and is a past master of the Black Heath Daylight Masonic Lodge.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Alice, his three children, three children-in-law and nine grandchildren.
A celebration of John’s life will be held Tuesday, July 19, at 11 a.m. at Woody Funeral Home Huguenot Chapel, 1020 Huguenot Road, Midlothian, Va., followed by a reception for friends and family.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the Masonic home.