A greatly loved son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather, Jeff Phylas Hartsell, 81, of Albemarle, passed away peacefully with his wife Jane and family members by his side on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.
Jeff was born June 12, 1940, in Albemarle, North Carolina. He was preceded in death by his father, Miller James Hartsell, his mother, Louise Richardson Hartsell, and his sister, Sandra Suzanne Hartsell.
Growing up in Albemarle Jeff loved to wrestle and scuffle with friends, run cross country, and lift weights. Jeff pushed himself every day to get stronger and run faster. He dreamed of wrestling competitively but Albemarle High School did not have a team. That all changed his senior year with an announcement over the school's PA system “We are organizing a wrestling team”. Jeff was a naturally fierce competitor and would go on to win most of his matches that year, and was even offered a full wrestling scholarship to Pfeiffer University. However, there was only one college in mind for Jeff, The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina.
At The Citadel Jeff thrived and dominated in the sport of wrestling on the regional and national stage. He made the junior varsity team his freshman year and the varsity team his sophomore year. He was the colleges' first wrestler to win the Southern Conference Tournament both in 1961 and 1962 and was voted “Most Outstanding Wrestler” both times. Jeff represented The Citadel in the NCAA Division 1 National Championship in Oregon, where he made it to the quarter-finals and was ranked 17th nationally. Jeff Hartsell put wrestling at The Citadel on the map and was acknowledged by sports media as the colleges’ first “elite” wrestler. In 2016, 54 years after his graduation, Jeff was inducted into The Citadel’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
After graduating from The Citadel in 1962, Mr. Hartsell continued his military career by enlisting in the US Army. He was transferred to the US Army Reserves, where he served for five years.
Jeff joined his family's business, Hartsell Funeral Homes in 1963. A business that was started in 1860 by his great grandfather, Jacob Hartsell. Jeff wasted no time becoming a licensed funeral director and applying the same discipline, hard work, values, and principles he learned at The Citadel into his new role at the funeral home. In 1970, Jeff married the love of his life, Jane, and they would go on to have five children, two of whom (Miller and Coburn) would follow in his footsteps and graduate from The Citadel.
Upon his father’s death, Jeff became CEO of Hartsel Funeral Homes. Jeff found meaning in the many individual relationships that he developed over the years. He was an amazing listener and always went out of his way to speak to everyone. It was out of this genuine passion that Mr. Hartsell grew Hartsell Funeral Homes to one of the largest independently owned firms in North Carolina. Today Jeff's children continue to carry his legacy into the fifth generation of service.
Jeff is survived by his loving wife and dance partner of 51 years, Jane Lowder Hartsell; sons, James (Diana) Fuller, Miller Jeff Hartsell, Coburn Phylas (Ayla) Hartsell: daughters, Carrie Louise Hartsell and Louisa Jane Hartsell. He is also survived by grandsons, Talon, Grant, and Benjamin; and granddaughters, Degan, Lillian Jane, Ana Louise, Millie, and Olivia Grace.
Mr. Hartsell will lie in state on Thursday, February 17, 2022, from 12:00 PM until 5:00 PM and Friday, February 18, 2022, from 8:00 AM until 4:00 PM at Hartsell Funeral Home, 522 N Second St., Albemarle, NC 28001. The family will receive friends on Friday, February 18, 2022, from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM at Hartsell Funeral Home of Albemarle. The funeral service, officiated by Rev. Jeremy Hyde, will be held on Saturday, February 19, 2022, at 11:00 AM in Hartsell Funeral Home's Lefler Memorial Chapel, Albemarle. For anyone who is unable to attend the service will be broadcast to the Hartsell Funeral Home website: https://video.ibm.com/channel/hartsell-funeral-home-albemarle1 Burial will follow at Salem United Methodist Church Cemetery, 20987 NC 73 Hwy., Albemarle, NC 28001 with military rites being conducted by the NCNGHG and the Cabarrus County Honor Guard. A reception will be held at the funeral home after the burial.
The Hartsell Family would like to thank Hospice of Stanly the Uwharries, and the staff of Spring Arbor for their loving care and compassion for Jeff during his illness.
Memorials may be made to Hospice of Stanly and the Uwharrie, 960 N. First St., Albemarle, NC 28002.
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