Webb leaves legacy to city, family

Published 9:30 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jack Webb works in his office at Nansemond Insurance Agency in this undated photo. (Courtesy Webb family)

Only a week before his death early Wednesday, 89-year-old Jack Webb Sr. was parading two of his young great-grandsons in his bedroom, showing them military drills he learned in his beloved Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

“They were following along with him,” son Joe Webb recalled this week. “I don’t know who was taking it more seriously — them or him.”

Webb, a family man, longtime businessman, and former City Council and School Board member, died in his sleep. It was the way he would have wanted to go, his son said.

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Joe Webb recollected his father’s devotion to his family, commitment to the business and fondness for Suffolk.

“Obviously, his family was the most important thing in his life,” Joe Webb said. “He was a good source of advice for all the ages.”

Webb graduated from Suffolk High School and attended Virginia Tech, where his education was interrupted by the call to duty for World War II. He married his childhood sweetheart, the former Faye Nimmo, just before he left for war and completed his education upon his return.

He soon started a 50-year career in the insurance business, which was again interrupted by service in the Korean War. He started Nansemond Insurance Agency in Suffolk in 1957. Two sons, a son-in-law, four grandchildren and one grandson-in-law have worked at the business with him.

Kermit Kelley recalled on Wednesday that Webb followed him most of their lives. Kelley graduated from Suffolk High School a year ahead of Webb, entered the war effort ahead of Webb and then graduated from Virginia Tech a year before Webb. When Kelley began his service on Suffolk’s City Council, Webb wasn’t far behind, earning his spot on the governing body around 1960, Kelley recalled.

“Jack was an excellent member of the council,” Kelley said. “He’s a hard-working individual. One thing about Jack is, if he promised you anything, he always kept to whatever he promised.”

Webb had served on the School Board before his service on Council. He later served four terms, from 1977 to 1993, on what was then known as the Industrial Development Authority, now the Economic Development Authority.

“He was always very optimistic about where Suffolk was headed,” Joe Webb said. “Although I was surprised at the growth we’ve seen in Suffolk in my lifetime, he never was. He always thought (the city) had unlimited potential.”

Joe Webb said his father’s motivation for serving stemmed from a desire to give back.

“He said many times, ‘To those whom much has been given, much is expected.’”

Webb leaves behind a wife, four children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. The family will receive friends Thursday at R.W. Baker Funeral Home, with a life celebration Friday at West End Baptist Church.