Jim Bealle was born April 26, 1935 to Helen McComb Bealle and James William Bealle in Knoxville, Tennessee. He passed away peacefully on September 15, 2020 in his daughter’s home in Bolingbroke, Georgia.
A native Tennessean, Jim grew up an only child in Jellico, a small town in Appalachian coal country. As a boy he loved his dog, Jeep, and for fun he would go through the countryside and stand with one foot in Kentucky and one in Tennessee. He left Jellico in seventh grade to attend The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee but kept up with Jellico friends through several kindergarten reunions throughout his life. After high school, he followed in his father’s footsteps to attend Auburn University. At Auburn, Jim joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity and met lifelong friends who called him “Joints” because of his lanky stature. One of his friends, Scrappy, spoke of Jim, “he wasn’t much of an athlete, but he was always the smartest guy in the room.” The tight-knit group of college friends and their families stayed close over the years, going back to Auburn for football Saturdays and helping each other through life.
Jim met the love of his life Janice Johnson on a blind date at Auburn. She loves to tell the story of how nice he sounded on the phone asking for the date. Actually, the voice was not Jim’s, but a smooth-talking fraternity brother. The ruse worked, and the two were married ten months later. Jim and Janice have been best friends for almost 63 years. The couple always enjoyed giving Christmas gifts to kids and grandkids, but the biggest pile of presents under the tree always had the ones labeled “to Janice, Love Jim.”
After graduating from Auburn with a degree in Building Science, Jim and Janice moved to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida where Jim was an officer in the Air Force. It was the height of the space race, and the couple spoke of the excitement each time a rocket was launched from the nearby space center. Their next stop was Birmingham, Alabama where Jim worked for US Steel, and then back to Jellico to work with the family business, McComb Supply Company. Jim and his family set down roots in Atlanta in 1964, where he began a successful career in real estate development. He became an Executive Vice President and partner with what was then known as Carter and Associates. Although Jim was initially involved primarily in design and construction, his role expanded through the years. When speaking of the breadth of Jim’s expertise and his willingness to work hard, one of his long-time partners, Billy Mitchell, said “there was really nothing he wouldn’t or couldn’t do” when challenges arose, which he tackled ethically and humbly. By the time he headed into retirement, Jim had risen to the top of his field, but his success never spoiled the well-grounded boy from Tennessee coal country. His kindness touched the lives of many throughout his career, as he never lost sight of the fact that life is about more than just business. Jim’s steadfast faith in God led him to a life of humble service.
Jim worked hard to make life better for people in his life and gave his resources and time generously. He never wanted “his left hand to know what his right hand was doing.” He served on the Board of Trustees of Johnson Bible College in Knoxville for over thirty years. Jim also served as a trustee of Christian City, a facility for children in crisis and elderly citizens in need in Atlanta. He served on the Young Life Committee in Northwest Atlanta and as elder and deacon at Southwest Christian Church in Atlanta.
Jim’s greatest admirers are his wife and children, Tricia Bealle Barton (Rodger), Betty Bealle Ham (Bill), John Bealle (Andreea), and his grandchildren, Jim Barton (Kelsey), Catherine Barton, Ben Barton, Madison Ham Brooks (Andrew), Joel Ham, Barret Ham, Julia Bealle and Daniel Bealle, and his great-grandchildren, Jacob Barton, Eva Joyce Barton and Luke Barton. All of these people are close friends, helped along by the annual Litchfield Beach vacation, a generous gift from Jim and Janice for over twenty summers. On these trips, the kids learned from their granddad the value of 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles, body surfing, Braves on TV and naps after lunch.
Driven by an insatiable curiosity, Jim knew lots of facts about lots of things, partly because of the often-referenced World Book Encyclopedia set that lived beside his favorite chair. In particular, he had an impressive knowledge of Auburn football; frankly, about any football. He was consistently a top contender in the family Bowl Mania contest. He read mountains of books and newspapers over his lifetime.
Jim presided over family holiday dinners where everyone came to his large dining room table. He would pray and thank God for the food and the people and mostly for Jesus and His sacrifice. He made it clear to all of those close to him that the source of his blessing came from God.
Jim spent his final weeks in his daughter’s home where he was free to be visited by loved ones. He shared communion with his three children, officiated by his grandson Jim. He received care from a ‘dream team’ of caregivers, and phone calls from old friends, even a Georgia fan with some pre-season trash talk. But he got a “War Eagle!” from his grandson Ben and answered, “We’ll get em!”.
Jim Bealle will be remembered and missed for a very long time.
Because of the pandemic there will be no formal visitation. A family graveside service will be held at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs, Georgia on Saturday at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Jim and Janice Bealle scholarship fund at Johnson University, Tennessee or Christian City, Union City, Georgia.
Monroe County Memorial Chapel has charge of arrangements.