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Armand J. DeBellis

1924 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Armand J. DeBellis Obituary
Armand J. DeBellis

Virginia Beach - Armand James DeBellis, known as Jim, was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on April 11, 1924 and died on Feb. 26, 2014. He was predeceased by his wife of 62 years, Sally Jane McKinley DeBellis; father and mother, Louis and Frances DeBellis; and sister, Delia DeBellis Gerace. He is survived by his daughters, Margaret DeBellis Bruce and husband Jay, and Barbara DeBellis Kennedy and husband Mark; grandsons, Benjamin Louis Kennedy and James Mathew Kennedy; sister, Aida DeBellis Pacella; and a large, extended family.

Jim was a World War II veteran, serving in the 34th Infantry Division, 135th Regiment and participating on the front line in Italy. He earned the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. After returning from the war, Jim went back to Grove City College where he graduated in 1949 with a degree in economics and business administration. He worked for 18 years with the Allegheny Power System where he rose to manager of public relations for the Potomac Edison Company.

In Sept. 1970, Jim was appointed the first Economic Development Director for the City of Va Beach. He was responsible for establishing and directing the city's programs for business development, tourism, and convention promotion. During his tenure, the Lynnhaven Mall project was completed, the Pavilion Convention Center was built, and many industrial sites were developed to attract national and international companies. He pointed with pride the location of the many companies he helped locate here which provided jobs for Va Beach residents.

Jim was active in peer organizations; he served as President of the Southern Economic Development Council; was founding president of the City/County Marketing Assoc.; was president of the Southern Community Development Council; served as chairperson for committees of the American Development Council and the Industrial Development and Research Council. He chaired the VA Chamber of Commerce Industrial and Tourism Committees. He served on the VA Tourism and Travel Commission, appointed by 3 Governors. He served as vice-chair of the Commonwealth of VA Tourism and Travel Advisory Committee and was president and life member of the VA Travel Council. His work in VA Economic Development earned him the prestigious Cardinal Award.

After retirement, Jim remained active in many organizations and did consulting work in VA and elsewhere. Jim was also an active community member. He was a past president and member of the VA Beach Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow. He was honored to be named a 1989 Neptune Festival Triton. He was on the board of the Virginians for the Arts and a past chair of the VA Beach Arts and Humanities Commission. He was a former board member of the VA Thanksgiving Celebration at Berkeley Plantation. He was a member and elder of Providence Presbyterian Church. He was appointed to serve on the VA Beach School Board in 2000-2002. He was a past member of the VA Beach Education Foundation Board and a member of the General Advisory Committee for Career and Technical Education. He also served as co-chair of the Norfolk Sentara Nursing Center Advisory Committee.

He worked diligently to make a difference and contribute to his city and his community. He loved Va Beach and was her biggest cheerleader. He willingly lent his expertise, creativity, and sense of fairness to all of his endeavors which benefitted so many organizations and individuals. As important as his achievements were, even more important to Jim was his family whom he loved beyond measure. His sense of humor and love of life will inspire all who knew him and will serve as a tribute to his memory. He was deeply loved and will be greatly missed by his family and his many friends.

The family would like to thank and acknowledge Dr. Jean Panneton, the doctors with Sentara Vascular Specialists, and the nurses in the vascular unit at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m., Sunday, March 2, at Smith & Williams Funeral Home, Kempsville Chapel.

A celebration of Jim's life will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, March 3, at Providence Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Honor Flight Network, Providence Presbyterian Church, or the VA Beach Youth Crisis Home in Jim's memory. You may offer condolences to the family at www.smithandwilliamskempsville.com.


Published in The Virginian Pilot on Mar. 1, 2014
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