James “Jim” Cecil Varner of Marion, N.C. passed away on August 17 at Mission Hospital in Asheville. He was 78. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 20, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel of Beam Funeral Service. Rev. Jerry Lewis will officiate. The family will receive friends from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m.
Jim was born on August 25, 1944 in Doerun, Ga. to Dewey Varner, Sr. and Mary Lou Smith Varner. Jim joined the U.S. Air Force in 1963. He married fellow Air Force airman Betty Gene Mills in 1964, and they were stationed in Fort Worth, Texas, Tripoli, Libya and Bitburg, Germany until Jim was honorably discharged in 1967. They then moved to Asheville and Dallas for work in the telephone industry, and then to Miami for Jim to work with his father in the construction field as a journeyman carpenter. They adopted their son David in 1973, then moved to Betty’s hometown of Marion in 1978, where Jim operated his moveable wall installation business for the next 25 years, working on such projects as the Carolina Panthers Stadium, the Dean E. Smith Center, the Omni Grove Park Inn, the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, and Marriott hotels.
Their family enjoyed racing dune buggies, skiing, jet skiing, and off-road motorcycling in David’s adolescent years.
Jim retired in 2003, after which he and Betty traveled extensively in their RV, visiting 48 states and Canada. Jim enjoyed nature and sitting on his back porch with a view of the forest. Jim and Betty were charter members of the Corpening YMCA and attended Grace Community Church.
Jim is survived by his wife of 59 years Betty, brothers Dewey, Jr (Darlene), Wayne (Meghan), and Gary (Suzanne), as well as multiple nephews, nieces, and in-laws. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, his son David, sister Brenda Hines (Jim), and brother Bobby (Rita).