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James Dea "Jim" Pethel

November 12, 1933 ~ September 6, 2021 (age 87)



Jim Pethel passed away Monday September 6, 2021, at the age of 87. He was born November 12, 1933 in Gainesville, Georgia, the oldest son of Sarah and D.T. Pethel, Jr. Jim learned to fly a plane as a young teen and graduated from Gainesville High School Class of 1950, then attended the Georgia Institute of Technology where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity and the United States Air Force ROTC Program. He later received his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia.

After wedding his sweetheart, Laquita Haynes, Jim went on to serve in the United States Air Force as an all-weather interceptor pilot achieving the rank of Captain. He was assigned to the 23rd Pursuit Group Flying Tigers Squadron flying the F86D SabreJet, and F89L Scorpian during the early Cold War Era. After completing his military service Jim returned with his wife to Gainesville where he began a successful automobile business that he owned and operated until his retirement.

Jim was a member of the Gainesville Rotary club, the First United Methodist Church, the Chattahoochee Country Club serving a term as finance chairman on the board, and the board of the Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport. Jim was appointed by then Governor Jimmy Carter to serve on the board of the Georgia Independent Automobile Dealers Association where he was elected President and served a ten-year term. He was elected Georgia Car Dealer of the Year.

As a civilian, Jim continued flying, often to the Bahamas for diving adventures, and enjoyed camping, boating, sailing, hunting, fishing, snow skiing, travel, motorcycles, mountain biking, and especially going to his mountain cabin with friends and family. He rode his Harley-Davidson motorcycle daily into his late 80s. Jim also belonged to several flying organizations and was an avid UGA Bulldog fan. Jim valued truthfulness and integrity.

Jim is survived by and was a loving and devoted husband to his wife, Laquita. He was a proud and caring father to his son, Timothy Dea Pethel, and his wife Paige of Gainesville, and to his daughter, Elizabeth Lynn Pethel Van Breene, and her husband Dane Van Breene of Milton. Jim was a loving grandfather to his greatest joys, his grandchildren, Daniel Van Breene and his wife Jen of Brookhaven, Sara Grace Pethel Tran and husband Ben of Royal Oak, Michigan, Katy Van Breene of Augusta, Anna Pethel of Augusta, Christian Van Breene of Athens, Coleman Pethel and Max Pethel of Atlanta.

There will be a graveside service at the Alta Vista Cemetery on Saturday, September 11, 2021 at 11:00 AM where family member, Jeff Boggan, will preside over the service. The procession will depart prior to the service from the Little & Davenport Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations may be made to:

The First United Methodist Church of Gainesville



Emory Candler School of Theology

Theology School Fund for Excellence, Don Harp Chair in Biblical Studies (

Those wishing to send online condolences to the family may do so at

Little & Davenport Funeral Home and Crematory, 355 Dawsonville Highway, SW, Gainesville, Georgia 30501 is in charge of arrangements.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Dea "Jim" Pethel, please visit our floral store.


Graveside Service
September 11, 2021

11:00 AM
Alta Vista Cemetery
521 Jones Street
Gainesville, GA 30501

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