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Earl Henry Workman, Jr. of Abingdon, Virginia, passed away peacefully on February 7th, 2023, at “Deer Meadows” in Abingdon, surrounded by his family. He was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle and friend. Earl Henry was born on April 7th, 1928, to the late Earl Henry Workman, Sr. and Berenice Miller Workman in Cabell, West Virginia. He is survived by his devoted wife, Janie Mullins Workman; daughter, Candace Jane Workman; stepchildren, George Thomas Nelms, Jr., Martha Rebecca Nelms, Sarah Elizabeth (James) Gentry; sister, Roberta Stuck of Charleston, WV, brother Robert L. Workman of Cross Lanes, WV and several nieces and nephews.
Including his parents, he was preceded in death by brother, William E. (Bill) Workman of Ravenswood, WV; sisters Betty Jo Beulike of Naples, FL and Judith Hope Miller of Punaluu, HI.
He graduated from Scott High School in 1946 serving as Senior Class President. Post-graduation he entered the United States Navy in April 1946 and was promptly sent to Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as part of “Project Bumblebee”, the U.S. Navy’s secret guided missile testing program. He left active duty in 1948 to further his education at Greenbrier Military Academy (GMA) in Lewisburg, West Virginia. While attending GMA, Earl played football as starting tackle for “The Fighting Cadets” along with his life-long best friend, Gene Hill. He remained in the U.S. Naval Reserves during this time and was honorably discharged in March of 1954.
In September of 1954, Earl and his first wife, the late Myrle Joanne Jones welcomed their daughter and only child, Candace Jane Workman while living in Windber, Pennsylvania. He worked for Eureka Department Stores and completed his Management training with Kroger Stores in Cincinnati, OH. When he returned to West Virginia, Earl was chosen by E. Morgan Massey to manage Junior Mercantile Stores, the arm of retail company stores of Massey Coal Company. The Masseys named him President of Massey Stores, Inc. Earl was a hard worker and bottom-line businessman. He and Morgan had a mutual trust and respect for one another. As they expanded the retail chain they purchased Rex Shopping Center in Abingdon, VA. moving Earl and his family to Southwest, VA in 1961. This became the main offices for Massey Stores, Inc. and the position Earl would remain in until his retirement.
In 1976 Earl married Janie Mullins Nelms. Ten years later he formed EHW, Inc. operating three Rex Food Centers in Pound, VA, Neon, KY and Pearisburg, VA. After retirement in 1993, Earl and Janie enjoyed spending the winters in Florida on the Atlantic Ocean later moving to Cape Coral where he could golf and cruise the waters on his boat named “Cookie”, his nickname for Janie. He especially loved driving around the backroads of Washington County, VA and the country roads of West Virginia.
Every morning he looked forward to solving the daily crossword, jumble and sudoku puzzles and playing gin rummy with Janie. He was a longtime member of Glenrochie Country Club enjoying golfing with his friends in the Noon Group. He loved gathering with friends and family, especially attending family, high school and Greenbrier reunions over the years. He and his family enjoyed boating on South Holston Lake and family vacations.
Earl will be remembered for his love of family and friends, his positive attitude, gracious smile, sense of humor and generosity. He always offered a hand if needed and was wholeheartedly there for those lucky enough to be a part of his life. He was a strong and dependable man who will be sorely missed by many.
“The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much…” - Robert Louis Stevenson
He was a member of First Christian Church of Abingdon.
A memorial service honoring Earl’s life will be held on Tuesday, March 21, 2023 at 11:45 am to 1:00 pm at First Christian Church of Abingdon, 185 Old Jonesboro Road, Abingdon, VA with Tom Crise officiating.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in his memory be made to First Christian Church of Abingdon, 185 Old Jonesboro Road, Abingdon, VA 24210.
The family of Earl Henry Workman, Jr. is being cared for by Farris Funeral Service & Crematory, 427 East Main Street, Abingdon, VA 24210, (276) 623-2700.
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