John Cumbey

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 13, 2009

John H. Cumbey
FRANKLIN—John H. Cumbey, the son of Lacy Fore Cumbey and Louise E. Amos was born in Pamplin where the Nottoway River begins. He died on Nov. 11, 2009, where he vowed he would, in his home in Franklin, overlooking the place where the Nottoway River ends.
In 1999, the only time in 500 years it had flooded that high, his beloved river destroyed his home during Hurricane Floyd.
In addition to a tendency to do whatever the hell they wanted to, John and his river had other things in common.
Complex, remote, productive—each a well guarded secret and both a deep trove of sustenance to those willing to navigate the terrain.
Mr. Cumbey rebuilt his house — he was good at making things right. His formal education ended with the closing of the public schools in Farmville in 1956. So, he became a scholar of the world around him, and a memorable teacher, using his own blunt, wry lesson plan, of tolerance, equal opportunity, hard work and all-around doing right and acting like you should. He was proud that he coached the Little League Football program in Courtland for 10 years and saw it through many seasons of playing every kid in every game.
In roughly 1983, the new coach — his son Bobby —barred him from Courtland Indian’s games for swearing too much. Passion has its price.
He was also passionate about seeing the world.
He drank iced tea at Normandy, and vodka most everywhere else. He climbed up onto a glacier, went down into the Grand Canyon and fit in one last trip to see the Natchez Trail.
He worked for Union Camp most of his adult life, and became a paper maker in his successful 42-year career there.
The son of one of his longtime co-workers called him one of the “last of the Mohicans; a real paper maker, with his hands.”
He was proud of his children, the late John Alan Cumbey, Lisa Dawn Cumbey of Richmond, Robert Byron and his wife Rhee Cumbey of Hunterdale and Warren Dean Cumbey and his wife Becky of Courtland. And, his grandchildren Casey Cumbey, Bradleigh Cumbey, Trevor Cumbey and Kendal Carwile. He made certain each knew the unique way in which he loved them. He also leaves his brother Lacy “Butch” and Virginia Cumbey of South Boston, Virginia.
He loved beautiful women and they loved him.
The Nottoway River doesn’t really end at John’s house, it just becomes something else. As, we believe, will he. He loved his Johnny Cash—and he will be loved and missed, “As long as the moon shall rise, as long as the rivers flow. As long as the sun will shine, as long as the grass shall grow.”
The family will receive visitors at John’s home on the river from 7 to 9 p.m. today.
A memorial service will be at R.W. Baker Funeral Home & Crematory in Suffolk on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family thinks he would like it if memorial donations were made to the Southampton High School Special Athletic Fund, 23350 Southampton Parkway, Courtland, VA 23837