JAMES MCKINLEY “RAT” “JIMMY” ZOLLICOFFER was born in Halifax County, North Carolina, on March 17, 1936, to the late Reverend Thomas Zollicoffer and Uzella Neville Zollicoffer. He departed this earthly life to enter eternal rest on Thursday, July 20, 2017, at Sentara CarePlex Hospital in Hampton, Virginia, at the age of eight-one.
During his early life, he accepted Christ as his personal Savior and joined the Mount Gilliam Baptist Church in Littleton, North Carolina. He received his formal education in the Halifax County Public School System.
As a young man, “Jimmy” was always a hard worker with big dreams. In 1957, he sold his hog, bought a used car, and moved to New York. It was in New York where he was smitten with Claudia Pauline Page of Saint Albans, West Virginia. They met at Unity Temple Church of God in Christ and were later married on December 23, 1959.
“Jimmy” and Claudia lived in Queens, New York, throughout most of their marriage. To this union was born a daughter, Renee. The sun rose and set on Renee. She was one of the most treasured things in “Jimmy’s” life. As a family, they never missed a weekend “Family night out” dinner. If Renee even glanced at something she wanted, it would not be long before it was hers. Among those, lest we forget, that Pontiac Firebird with the T-top, no less, that Renee received as a high school graduation gift.
To provide for his family, “Jimmy” became employed with the Board of Education for the City of New York as a custodian at Forest Hill High School and retired in June 1998, after thirty-eight years of loyal, dedicated service. He would often pick up extra hours and side jobs, not for the money, but just because he loved to work. “Jimmy” was often referred to as the hardest working man anybody knew.
So many words can be used to describe “Jimmy” for the manner with which he served, and the roles he played, including that of “community handyman.” There was nothing he could not fix or build. In fact, every time he traveled home to Littleton, North Carolina, or to his adopted home of Saint Albans, West Virginia, there was always something that someone needed him to fix.
Nieces and nephews loved seeing “Uncle Rat” when he returned to Littleton for the annual Family Reunions in his big Mercedes. That might have something to do with the fact that “Uncle Rat” would not give out nickels and dimes when he saw them – he gave out $5-dollar bills. He never met a stranger and would chatter up a storm with all whom he met. His door always swung on open hinges, as various family members lived with them at some point.
In 2001, “Jimmy” and Claudia relocated to Hampton, Virginia, and even though they might have slowed down a bit, their home was still a frequent destination for friends and family. Jimmy continued to provide for his family, taking care of his wife until the very end.
In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by six brothers and five sisters: Charlie, Cleveland, Sidney, Jasper, Ralph, Willie, Lenora, Alice, Josephine, Mariah and Shirley.
“Jimmy” is survived by his loving wife of fifty-seven years, Claudia Pauline Zollicoffer; his daughter, Renee Zollicoffer Park (Junior) of Suwanee, Georgia; his son, Larry Zollicoffer (Annette) of Gaston, North Carolina; his sister, Deborah Zollicoffer of Anchorage, Alaska; a special aunt, Elberta Snow of Littleton, North Carolina; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family members, and special friends, including his devoted friend, Mildred Hines of Hampton, Virginia.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, July 29, 2017, at the funeral home. Rev. Milton R. Solomon, Jr. will eulogize, and burial will follow in the Fidelity Baptist Church Cemetery, 627 Summit Road, Littleton, NC. The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 6:00-8:00 P.M. on Friday, July 28, 2017, and for one hour prior to the funeral time.