Obituary of Jack Hennessee Sr
Jack Merton Hennessee Sr., 86, died on March 15, 2017, in Cullowhee, North Carolina after a brief illness.
Jack was born on Oct. 23, 1930, to W.C. and Stella Hennessee in Campaign, Tennessee, where his father worked for the Rocky River Coal and Lumber Co., headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1935 his father moved the family to Sylva, having identified the area as a good location for a lumber business. He co-founded the Hennessee-Welch Lumber Company.
Jack attended the Sylva public schools and in 1948 graduated from Sylva High School, where he played on the football team. He was also an Eagle Scout. He attended the University of Tennessee, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity. It was there that he met his first wife, Joan Diehl. They were married on Dec. 28, 1951, and a year later welcomed their son, Jack M. “Pog” Hennessee Jr.
In 1951 Jack also became a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and served in the rank of Sgt. Horizontal Control Officer in fire direction control, Army Field Artillery.
Jack’s career in the lumber industry began at age 15, working as an assistant driver for the Hennessee-Welch Lumber Company. After his father bought out his partner to form the W.C. Hennessee Lumber Co., Inc., Jack became a full-time employee. In 1958 Jack became vice-president of the W.C. Hennessee Lumber Company, and was promoted to president in 1960 where he worked until 1980, when the company merged with Hammermill Paper of Erie, Pennsylvania.
After the merger Jack spent five years as assistant to the president of Hammermill. In 1986 he joined his son in a sawmill business in Franklin. Jack was active in other timber and logging operations and served as president of Jack M. Hennessee, Inc., a trucking company, until 2009 when the company was dissolved. He and his son also owned and operated PJ’s, a convenience store in Sylva.
In 2005, Jack’s first wife, Joan, died, and two years later, on April 1, 2007, Jack married Mary Carol Estridge. They bought a house in Cullowhee and spent 10 good years together, surrounded by children and grandchildren.
Jack served as president of many business and civic organizations, including the Jackson County Jaycees and Chamber of Commerce; the N.C. Forestry Association in Raleigh; the Appalachian Lumberman’s Club in Asheville; GMC Hardwoods in Dover, Massachusetts; and the Hennessee and Monteith Lumber Co. in Georgia. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Western Carolina University.
Jack was known throughout his life for his humor and optimism. He made friends easily and enjoyed cooking for his friends and family. At various times he was an enthusiast of stock car racing and horse racing. He was an avid golfer. He rescued many “sawmill dogs” and kept some of them as pets.
Jack is survived by his wife, Carol; his son Jack M. Hennessee Jr., and his wife Debbie, granddaughter Stephanie McGrath and husband Dustin, and great-grandson Gavin; also his sister, Donna Bryan and husband Charley; stepchildren, Blitz Estridge and granddaughter Cameron; Alicia Stewart and husband Matt and grandson Trent, and granddaughter Emma Kate; Devin Estridge and Laura and granddaughters Bexley and Maeli.
In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The Community Table or Catman.
A memorial service will be held on April 1 at First United Methodist Church at 6 in the evening.
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