John C. Harrell

John C. Harrell

Suffolk, VA
12.21.1938 - 11.26.2019

John C. Harrell, 80 died on November 26, 2019, after a long battle with cancer.  A native of Suffolk, Virginia, John was owner of Suffolk Iron Works, Inc., his family’s business.  He began working there at the age of 14 and was still active at the time of his death.  He was the son of the late R. R. Harrell and Virgie Eley Harrell.  He is survived by his wife Mary Lawrence Pond Harrell; daughter Mary Marshall Graeber and husband Jeff; son John Clifton Harrell, Jr. and wife Anne-Randolph; five grandchildren Charles McClain Graeber, Thomas Clifton Graeber, Martha Kea Harrell, John Clifton Harrell III, Randolph Riddick Harrell, and a close extended family.  He was predeceased by his sister Betty Anne Kyle and his brother Dr. Robert Riddick Harrell III.

John was a 1957 graduate of Suffolk High School and graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS degree in Industrial Engineering.  He was a past president of the Suffolk Lions Club and the Suffolk Rotary Club.  John served as chairman of the Board of the Industrial Development Authority and was a member of the Corporate Board of the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts at its inception.  He was a longtime member and past chairman of the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Board of Directors, served on the Board of Directors of Central Fidelity Bank, and was a member of the Birdsong Trust for over 40 years, serving as chairman for many of those years.  He was a member of West End Baptist Church, a past deacon, church treasurer, and chairman of the Memorial Trust Fund.  John was honored as Suffolk’s First Citizen in 2017.

An avid bird hunter, John was one of the ten founding members of the Nansemond River Duck Club, rarely missing a meeting in over 46 years.  He enjoyed hunting all of his life and relished time spent hunting on the Nansemond River, on his farm, and on horseback out west.  Time spent golfing, fishing, or hunting was special, but time spent with family and friends gave him his greatest joy.

A memorial service to celebrate John’s life will be held at West End Baptist Church, 501 West Washington Street, on Monday, December 2, 2019 at 11:00 AM, followed by a reception at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.  The burial will be private.  In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to West End Baptist Church Memorial Fund or Nansemond-Suffolk Academy.  R. W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory is handling arrangements.  Condolences may be registered at

Start Time

West End Baptist Church
501 W. Washington St
Suffolk , VA 23434
United States


Mary Lawrence, Cliff and Mary Marshall-

Lifting all of you and your families in prayer and thanking God for how generous John was to me. His influence was immeasurable and helped to shape me into the man I am today. Thank you, Mr. Harrell!

God bless,

Scott Fuller

To the Entire Harrell Family,

Our deepest sympathy to you and all your family. May the love of God enfold you all as you go through this difficult time. We were blessed to have gotten to know John while we lived and served in Suffolk. He was a true blessing to all whom he came in contact with. He will be remembered and admired always. May peace, strength, love and comfort fill your hearts in the days ahead.

God Bless,
Rick and April Matthews

Rick and April Matthews

Mary Lawrence, Clifton, Mary Marshall, and family. I was very sorry to hear of John's passing. He was a very good friend and mentor to me. We played a lot of golf together and I will miss him a lot.

Tom Harry

Mary Lawrence and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I have lovely memories of John and know how much he will be missed by all. Prayers and hugs to you all.

Marilyn H. Stulb

I am sorry for your loss, John was highly thought of and will be missed by myself and countless others. I truly valued John's friendship and he will always have a place in my heart. May you have peace and comfort in the days to come.
Glenn A. Chappell

Glenn Chappell

Dear Mary Lawrence, Mary Marshall, Clifton and Family,
On behalf of the City Treasurer's Office, I want to extend to you and your family our sincerest sympathy on the loss of John. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time.
Ronald H. Williams, City Treasurer and Office Staff

Ronald H. Williams

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I hope your memories will help to ease the grief.

Lisa Thanadar

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