Obituaries » The Honorable James Sebrell Farmer, Sr.

The Honorable James Sebrell Farmer, Sr.

July 17, 1933 - June 12, 2022

The Honorable James Sebrell Farmer, Sr. died June 12, 2022, at Lynchburg General Hospital.

Born in Princess Ann County, Virginia Beach, July 17, 1933, to Isaac Herbert Farmer and Ann Bell Sebrell, both deceased, Jim grew up and attended schools in the Richmond area. After graduating from high school he enlisted in the United States Air Force. Following his service he enrolled in college, graduating from then Lynchburg College in 1957.

He then began a teaching and coaching career, which included 4 years at Virginia Episcopal School from 1958 to 1962, during which time he led the Bishops to their first ever Prep League Basketball championship in 1961. In that same year he met and married Frances Marion Love. In 1962, he entered law school at Washington and Lee and graduated in 1965. He returned to Lynchburg and practiced law until 1980 when he was elected by the Virginia General Assembly to General District Court Bench where he served until 1995. Upon his retirement he was presented with the Liberty Bell Award by the Lynchburg Bar Association in recognition of his “community service

that has strengthened the American system of freedom under law”. After his retirement he continued to serve as a judge, substituting in courts throughout the Commonwealth.

Jim’s teaching and coaching experience stood him in good stead during his legal career. Often beginning lawyers found him a willing mentor and during his tenure as a judge he tried to phrase his comments in a way that would help defendants learn from their mistakes. His colleagues found him innovative and easy to work with. He was praised for developing a work program for the 24th district which allowed people to work off their fines if they were unable to pay.

He was also described as having an unbelievable insight into human nature and the law, with an effect more personal than powerful, laid back and quick witted defying the image of a judge as a stern arbiter of justice.

He is survived by his wife, Marion Love Farmer and son, Robert Harris Farmer, Daughter-in-law, Rachel Lynn Farmer and two grandchildren, Mae and James Farmer of Kill Devil Hills, NC. He was predeceased by his son, James Sebrell Farmer, Jr. (1965-2014), one brother, Isaac Herbert Farmer, Jr., and three sisters, Mary Ann Sebrell Shackelford, Caroline Drury Mullaney, and Emily Nelson Reams.

The family suggests that those wishing to make memorials consider Virginia Episcopal School, 400 VES Road, Lynchburg, VA 24503.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.


Condolences & Tributes

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Dear Marion and Family, Edie and I are so sorry on your and our loss of Jim. When I started at VES in 1967 Jim was already a legendary coach and master. Then in 1980 when I was a young attorney and he had just come on the bench I was so fortunate to appear before him in court and to have time with him through lunches with Alan Smith and Jess Crumbley. Jim was so intelligent, had a great sense of humor and always exercised common sense. I respected him tremendously and always enjoyed his company. We have many great memories of our times with Jim and you and will cherish those times forever. Love, Cham and Edie Light

Posted by Cham Light on June 23, 2022

Dear Marion and family, Sending condolences on the passing of Judge Farmer. YES, I remember! I am grateful for his wisdom. He helped my career and especially that of other Women Lawyers who were beginning to penetrate the practice of law in Virginia's courtrooms. Prayers for the comfort of peace for you. Sincerely, Arelia Langhorne

Posted by Arelia S Langhorne on June 20, 2022

On behalf of the Lynchburg Bar Association, we would like to extend our condolences to the Farmer family. Judge Farmer was a pillar to the legal field and all of us in the legal community will greatly miss him. We are grateful for the years of service and his commitment to his community and profession.

Posted by Chad Mooney on June 20, 2022

Marian, Tim and I are so very sorry to hear about Jim. I remember him fondly from my years working at VES as such a wonderful person, so full of life and fun. We are thinking of you and your family. Sarah and Tim

Posted by Sarah Josephs Hellewell on June 18, 2022

I was one of the first Magistrates in 1974. Judge Farmer one very special to me. He was always stopping in the office to shoot the breeze. He was a good man and a good Judge.

Posted by David Glass on June 17, 2022

Marian and Family: We are so sorry to read about Jim. From our time at W&L to practicing law, and many years on the bench Jim was always a good friend, a knowledgeable attorney and a quick witted judge. We will miss him. Hope you all had good times in retirement If we can be of assistance please contact us. Best wishes

Posted by Leyburn and Mercedes Mosby on June 17, 2022

I had the pleasure of serving as Jim's court bailiff for many years. I grew to greatly respect his knowledge of and respect for the law. He was always a pleasure to be around and I grew to consider him as a friend. He was a true gentleman in the highest since of the word. I will always have many fond memories of him. Rest in peace old friend!

Posted by John Price Deputy Sheriff on June 16, 2022

Jim taught me in the eighth grade at Bedford High School. His family lived behind us when he lived on Kensington Avenue. I have fond memories of him from both of those places.

Posted by Bonnie Lindsay on June 15, 2022

I am very sorry. He was a great man and good friend. Mack Burgess

Posted by Mack Burgess on June 14, 2022

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