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James Robert “J.R.” Southerland, 81, of Johnson City, passed away Wednesday at Johnson City Medical Center following a brief illness.

He was born Oct. 12, 1937, in Chuckey. He was a son of the late Alfred L. and Susan Frances Waddell Southerland.

J.R. retired from Holston Distributing Company, where he was recognized as the Salesman of the Year for several years. He was a veteran of the United States Army. He was Methodist by faith.

Survivors include his beloved wife of 59 years: Geraldine Southerland; his daughter: Dr. Elizabeth Marie Southerland, of Johnson City; his son and daughter-in-law: James Alfred and Carolyn Brostad Southerland, of Houston, Texas; a granddaughter and her fiancé: Grace Olivia Southerland and Samuel Hanz, of Orlando, Florida; a grandson: David James Southerland, of Houston; a brother and sister-in-law: Clarence and Charlotte Southerland, of Greeneville; sisters-in-law: Georgia Southerland and JoAnn Southerland, of Greeneville; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by three brothers: Ralph E. Southerland, Clinton R. Southerland and Lonnie Lawrence Southerland; and six sisters: Ruby K. Corby, Leeoma M. Ware, Hazel M. Blevins, Loraine M. Slimp, Malta L. Hunt and Marilyn L. Blevins.

During his life, J.R. enjoyed working in his garden, family trips to the coast, to see the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, visiting his children and grandchildren in Florida and Texas, weekends of NASCAR races and the University of Tennessee Volunteers, spending time with his beagle Smokey, and watching westerns with Geraldine and Marie in his later years.

The family will receive family and friends at Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. The funeral services will follow at 4 p.m. with the Rev. Paul Longmire officiating.

Interment will be Sunday at noon in GreeneLawn Memory Gardens. Family and friends are asked to meet at Kiser-Rose Hill Funeral Home at 11:30 a.m. to go in procession to the cemetery.

Pallbearers will be David Southerland, Alfred Southerland, Mickey Slimp, Billy Willocks, Kevin Fielden and Jacob Fielden.

Honorary pallbearers will be Bill Hunt, Larry Hunt, Kevin Slimp, Barton Slimp, Benny Ware, Bobby Reed and Roger Reed.

Condolences may be sent to the Southerland family at