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James E. Handy, Jr.


Sunrise: March 30, 1938

Sunset: November 4, 2019

Dr. James E. Handy Jr, church musician extraordinaire is a native of Woodstown, New Jersey where he began piano lessons at age seven and continued to receive early musical training in the public schools through his participation in the high school band, chorus, and orchestra. As a teenager, Handy began organ lessons and was appointed his first church musician job at Saint Mark AME Church in Gladsboro, New Jersey.

As a citizen of Norfolk, VA, Handy joined Antioch Baptist Church and was appointed as the church’s Minister of Music, a position he held for 40 years, before retiring in June 1996. Through the years, his vast musical contributions to the Hampton Roads community have included involvement as Organist/Pianist/Accompanist (organ/piano) for the Voices of Norfolk Concert Choir Inc. and the Matthew Gospel Singers, Chapel Organist for Graves Funeral Home and Metropolitan Funeral Home and Musician for the Norfolk Branch of the NAACP as well as other guest appointments and appearances throughout the area.

Dr. Handy’s musicianship gained him national acclaim in the genre of church music through his position as the first Music Director for the Eagle Arts Youth Retreat at the General Convention of Virginia,  as musician for the Evangelical Board of the National Baptist Convention of America; as one of the hymnology instructors for The Union Christian Bible Institute in Durham, North Carolina and the Virginia Bible Institute in Virginia and organist for the First Church of Deliverance in Chicago, Illinois. Internationally, Handy traveled abroad in 1995 and was the worship song leader for a baptism service attended by hundreds at the Jordan River. The trip also included visits to the Sea of Galilee, the Garden of Gethsemane and to Calvary in Jerusalem.

Dr. James E. Handy has held membership in the National Hymn Society, is a founding member of the Great Eureka Lodge No. 5 IBPO Elks of the World and is the founder of the Hampton Roads Choir Directors/ Organist Guild. He is a Past President and a member of the Executive Board and Nominating Committee of the Hampton University’s Minister’s Conference Choir Directors/Organist Guild. Also he is a charter member of the   Madam Porter Owens Scholarship Committee.

In recognition for his many musical achievements and contributions, James is a recipient of the Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from the Virginia Bible University and Mayor Roy B. Martin issued a City of Norfolk Proclamation declaring a “James E. Handy, Jr. Day.”

Viewing Wednesday, November 13, 2019 Metropolitan Funeral Service 7246 Granby Street Norfolk, VA 23505 Service Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:00am Antioch Missionary Baptist Church 525 Dinwiddie Street Norfolk, VA 23523

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Condolences(21)

  1. reply
    Joseph Lassiter says

    May you Rest In Peace Handy, the angels in heaven are waiting for you along with Rev. Joseph Lassiter, what a day of JOY

    • reply
      Mae M. Wiley & Marian Jackson says

      Created to Shine with an inspiring, One-of-a-kind light in our world. Now ascended to enjoy forever the ONE who gave HIS ALL to make him HIS child.
      You will be dearly missed and never forgotten, I’m sure you and our sister Marjorie A.Mitchell (one of your musical prodigies) are enjoying Heaven.

  2. reply
    R a l e t t e Robinson says

    To the family we send our condolences. My daughter’s and I was Mr
    Handy pca’s we Love severing him. Thank you family for sharing Him with us.

  3. reply
    Jacqueline Smith( Flowers) says

    To my Godfather! Love you and will miss our time together. Thank you for all your love. We will miss you dearly. Jacqueline Smith (Flowers) and family. Gone but never forgotten.

    • reply
      Mae M. Wiley & Marian Jackson says

      Created to Shine with an inspiring, One-of-a-kind light in our world. Now ascended to enjoy forever the ONE who gave HIS ALL to make him HIS child.
      You will be dearly missed and never forgotten, I’m sure you and our sister Marjorie A.Mitchell (one of your musical prodigies) are enjoying Heaven.

  4. reply
    Margo Bullock says

    I’m so sorry to hear about our elite Minister of Music James E. Handy Jr. I grew up watching you master your gift of music and I always wanted to learn to play. You were truly loved and will be missed. I pray your soul RIP. Somethings about people stand out and for me it was your laugh. You could really help the young Brother’s with their beards today because you’ve been wearing yours for the 56 years that I’ve known you.

  5. reply
    NeicyB Taylor says

    Mr. Handy
    I have been knowing you since I was a teenager. When my Mother Elizabeth Perry left this earth, I called you either once a week or several times a month. Lord knows I enjoyed our conversations about your Steelers and Empire. Everyone knew not to call you while they were on tv. When I called you and you didn’t call me right back I knew something was wrong. I am glad I called the hospital and had my final talk with you. I am having a hard time with this because I cannot call, laugh and joke with you anymore.
    I love and miss you! May you Rest In Peace.

  6. reply
    Vanessa Parker says

    I am sadden to hear about Mr.Handy. I met him in 1972 while still a senior at BTW here in Norfolk. I worked with him at Alstchuls Dept Store and he was my supervisor in the Men’s Dept. He trained me well in Men’s attire… He was kind and easy going.. Never rushing and always taking his time while making sure to teach you all that he knew. Well Dressed, Well Known, Kind Heart, He will be missed by many.

  7. reply
    Cynthia Brooks-Allen says

    Dr. Handy it was such a pleasure meeting you. I will miss your laughter, sense of humor and your smile. We had only known you for a short while and I’m truly heart-broken to hear of your passing. The employees and staff at All About You Residential Care located in the city of Chesapeake, VA are so sad and sorry. You will be missed Dr.Handy may you Rest in Peace.

  8. reply
    Estherine J. Harding says

    Deepest sympathy and prayers to Dr. Handy’s family. May God bless and comfort you during this difficult time. Dr. Handy will be missed by so, so many who loved and knew him as well as those who enjoyed his exemplary musical talent demonstrated at various programs where Gospel Music was being highlighted.

  9. reply
    Dr. Clarence D. Miller DD and family says

    Sorry to hear of the transition of my friend,co-laborer int he field of music. Mr. Handy was a true church musician. RIP my friend and brother

    • reply
      Janet Benson says

      Faye Gardley $ Janet Benson

      • reply
        Cynthia Brady says

        R I.P.
        Cousin Jim
        Cynthia Brady & Family😘💕💕🙏

  10. reply
    Wardell & Debra Overton says

    May you rest in peace, you are now singing with the angels. You will be missed because you are loved by many. Wardell Overton and sister will miss you, but we know you are in a better place.

  11. reply
    Beverly Smullen Archer says

    Your spirit, style, voice and humor will always be remembered. I will never forget our last visit and how much we laughed that day. I can still see your face as we were leaving and that pleasant smile. Uncle Handy you were an amazing human being and it was a blessing to have shared in your life. I love you and will truly, truly miss you!

  12. reply
    Jean Henderson says

    Cousin James, I will miss our talks and laughter. Our love for music and our piano playing bonded us together. Discussing our memories about Woodstown and Bailey Street, I will never forget. Rest In Peace.

  13. reply
    Cynthia Brady says

    R I.P.
    Cousin Jim
    Cynthia Brady & Family😘💕💕🙏

  14. reply
    Larry Cooper says

    Jimmy was a kind soul and inspiration to all who know him. His wonderful talent in gospel music was incomparable. He’s been a long time family friend and dedicated servant of the church, and loved singing for the Lord.

    May our Lord bless and comfort you and your family during this time of grief. Please accept our sincere condolences.

    The Cooper family

  15. reply
    Melanie Littlejohn-Lee says

    Uncle Jimmy….what can i say, you were the funniest, most talented,musician I have ever encountered …I remember as a very young girl the many rehearsals, performances, and gatherings of you, my mom Priscilla, my “aunts”, Mary (Madam), Novella, Bertha, Lillie, Ann (Kissa),Katie and,liz… (The Matthew Gospel Singers) and the story that you always told of traveling with boiling water the entire trip up north and back in the anticipation of my birth..lol…you were full of life, laughter and music…you will be missed, take a bow dear uncle and Rest in Eternal Peace… Lovingly, Melanie

  16. reply
    Carla V Lawrence & Marlene Lawrence says

    Jim we were saddened to hear that you had passed on. Knowing t had lived a full glorious life. We are going to miss that hàrdy laugh and jokes. You always had love for family and friends ☺️ and we definitely appreciated your 💓 of music.

  17. reply
    Gary and Carman Dent says

    Lord, those who die still live in Your presence, their lives change but do not end. They remain in our hearts forever.

    Let us pray in hope for the life of Dr. Handy, his Antioch family, relatives and friends. Comfort all who mourn his death and fill all of us with hope in Your resurrection.

    We thank You Lord for Dr. Handy his teaching, beautiful music, loving spirit and encouragement to those who enjoyed playing the piano, as I (Gary) did growing up observing his genius.

    The Dent Family

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