January 26, 1944 ~ February 13, 2021

Resided in: Asheville, NC

After two years of steadfast determination, James “Jimmy” Coleman Hanrahan, Jr., succumbed peacefully to pancreatic cancer in his Asheville home on February 13th, 2021. His lifelong “bestie”, Kit Gruelle, along with the help of his dear friend Jhonson Barrera and Four Seasons Hospice, provided him with gentle, loving care throughout the last few weeks of his life. His rescued dog Woody was always close by. Bentley, his beloved rescue Golden Retriever preceded him in death by ten hours.

Jimmy was the survivor of his father, James Coleman Hanrahan, his mother Mimi Hanrahan, and his half brother, Kent W. Shelby. He is survived by his sister, Denis Hanrahan and her son, Coleman Katajisto of West Palm Beach, Florida; his half-sister, Kate Hanrahan, of Vermont; and hundreds of dear friends across the country. He lived in Palm Beach, Miami, and California before moving permanently to Asheville fifteen years ago.

After graduating from the University of Miami, he went to work at the newly formed Child Protective Services of Dade and Munroe Counties, where he served the needs of abused and neglected children. That work opened his eyes to the suffering children and families faced, which he never forgot. For a period of time, he drove the Book Mobile for the Haywood County Public Library, which led to his fondness for people who lived in rural parts of the mountains. He developed relationships with many who shared his love of books. Often, to his delight, the elderly women on his route would have warm, fresh biscuits for him when he drove up.

Jimmy was known for his multi-faceted interests: a great lover of the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains, he was also passionate about food (known by his friends as a foodie of the first order), dogs, the Biltmore Estate, antique cars, travel, and meeting people from all walks of life. Tenderhearted, gracious and kind, he lived enthusiastically. A dependable confidant and supportive friend, he was exceptionally mindful of the struggles and joys of his friends and family. He was deeply empathetic and took time to listen. Prominent among his commitments to a host of causes were his devotion to human and animal rights and the care and preservation of the planet.

Jimmy will be buried in West Palm Beach, Florida, next to his father and mother. When Covid dangers have receded and it is safe to come together again, a celebration of his beautiful, exceptionally well lived life will be held in the mountains in the spring or summer, where fond memories and stories of our beloved Jimmy may be shared.

May he rest in eternal peace.

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to Dr. Martin Palmeri of Messino Cancer Center for the exceptional care and kindness he showed to Jimmy throughout his illness.

In lieu of flowers, please send a donation in Jimmy’s name to Four Seasons Hospice, 571 South Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC, 28731 or to your local animal shelter.


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home - Patton Ave.
1401 Patton Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806


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  1. I only knew Jimmy through Kit’s stories and loved every one of them. Safe passage to Jimmy and Bentley by his side and much love to Kit. Jimmy was a light in the world and one of a kind, for sure.

  2. I was fortunate to get to meet Jimmy and “his critters,” as he always signed their names, through Kit. His obituary describes him well; he was all that and more! His kindness and generosity will forever be his defining legacy. The last story about Bentley’s prescient passage a mere hours before Jimmy’s is one I am already retelling. I know Kit will keep Jimmy’s memory alive.


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