James Raymond Britt of Huntington

James Raymond Britt, who learned the value of honest labor with farm chores and vocational pursuits during his working-class boyhood in Wayne County then grew up to a career that spanned the transportation, construction and manufacturing industries, died Saturday in Huntington, W.Va., where he had lived for more than a decade. A lifelong Wayne Countian born May 12, 1930, at his family home in Saltpetre, W. Va., he was 80. The cause was the effects of a longtime battle with cancer, according to his wife Donna. The couple, who recently marked 60 years of matrimony, was married Feb. 17, 1951, in a small church ceremony in Louisa, Ky. Growing up, Mr. Britt learned firsthand how to approach hard work from his father Charles, who was a longtime Section Foreman for the Norfolk & Western Railway line. Mr. Britt himself worked an early job on the railroad. For a number of years in the 1950s and early 60s, Mr. Britt worked in the construction industry, helping build large overpasses and roadways that are still seen - and in use today. Mr. Britt also was employed early in his career at Rice-Chadwick Rubber Company, makers of precision extruded components such as tubing, seals and gaskets at the plant in Killbuck, Oh. He also worked at Inco Alloys International, where he helped maintain and repair the machinery that processed the alloys used by industries serving both defense and commercial markets. During this especially productive period, Mr. Britt joined the ranks of the United Steelworkers of America Local 7153. He retired in 1990. After retiring, Mr. Britt focused on his longtime entrepreneurial interest in recovery and refurbishment of keepsakes, which started in earnest with his purchase of a White’s-brand metal detector in the early 1980’s. During those years he could be found many evenings and weekends searching for treasure, as well as helping individuals locate lost rings or family jewelry they dropped while picnicking or playing in parks and fields. He acquired, sold and bartered antiques and other mementos until the landmark “Bus Barn” Bazaar in Huntington’s west end was razed to make way for a convenience store and gas station on the site of the long-standing structure that once housed the city’s trolleys and buses. Mr. Britt, who grew into an experienced hunter, enjoyed hunting trips however even his boyhood love of the outdoors didn’t alter his appreciation for the creature comforts of home. During one particular pursuit in the Alleghenies of Pocahontas County, after an unwanted, deep late-season snow that followed a mix of freezing rain - which saw to it that sleeping bags were neither dry nor useful and even spare clothes were soaked - Mr. Britt assessed the uncomfortable situation. After carefully considering the options, he announced to members of his hunting party that he knew where he’d left a warm, dry bed waiting and was breaking camp to return there and enjoy it. The others in his group saw his wisdom, and soon -- though gobbler free -- all were homeward bound. A long-time member of the Big Hurricane Missionary Baptist Church, near Fort Gay, W.Va., Mr. Britt began attending regularly after persistent concerns for his spiritual well being were expressed by his young nephew Jamie Spears. After more than 30 years as a member of the church, his failing health caused him reluctantly to pass on the role of Deacon to younger members in the close-knit church family. Mr. Britt, the seventh of 10 children, was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Mae Sites Britt and siblings Jack of Fort Gay; George “Doc” of Huntington; Robert of Millersburg, Dh.; Stella Picklesimer of Wooster, Dh.; and Ruby Pauline Britt and JoAnn Chapman, both of Huntington. While Mr. Britt and his wife Donna weren’t blessed with children, their caring and generosity embraced and helped nurture countless nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family members. In addition to his wife Donna, Mr. Britt is survived by sisters Bessie Crabtree of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and Helen Stansberry of Ashland, Ky.; brother Nathan of Fort Gay; niece Betsy Britt of Fort Gay; nephew Chuck Britt of Dunbar, W.Va.; special sisters-in-law Betty Jean Britt of Ceredo, W.Va. and Edna Williams of Ona, W.Va.; special nephew Terry Spears of Proctorville, Dh.; special in-laws the James Spears family of Huntington (Jim, Nell, Jamie and Zach, and Marty); and loved ones too numerous to cite. Funeral services are Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Young Funeral Chapel in Louisa, Ky. with the Rev. Richard Maynard and the Rev. Tony Perry officiating. Burial will follow in Lynch Cemetery in Saltpetre, a gravesite “homecoming” of sorts, where he will rejoin his mother, father and siblings. The Britt family would like to thank the staff of the Emogene Dolin Jones Hospice House for their kindness.