James R. Cannell Sr. of Sebring, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his family July 23, 2022, after only a short battle with cancer. He was born in Youngstown, OH to Art and Norma (Sharpnack) Cannell, then as a toddler the family moved to Sebring where he made his home in the town he loved.
After graduation from Sebring High School in 1961, he went to work at Mercer’s Ashland where he eventually purchased it,calling it Cannell’s Ashland. In 1962 he married Bobbi(Benning) and started his family. It was during his younger years when his love for his family and Sebring became his life. He joined the Sebring Volunteer Fire Department in 1965, Sebring Masonic Lodge and Alliance Shrine Club. He eventually sold the gas station and worked until retirement as the Service Manager at Bailey Ford. It was important to him to hold a job within the city limits so he could respond to any emergency.
As a Sebring Firefighter his passion and commitment to the department allowed him to rise in the ranks. He became the Chief in 1979, until his retirement from the department in 2015. He served over 50 years to SFD, being instrumental in the expansion of fire station #1, building station # 2, raising money for numerous new trucks, and equipment. Chief Cannell was proud knowing SFD had the best personnel, fastest response time, state-of-the art equipment, and facilities of any volunteer fire department around.
Chief Cannell proudly wore his fire helmet as a king’s crown, but also wore many other hats in Sebring and the surrounding communities. He was treasurer of the Sebring Booster Club for 28 years, a member of the Sebring Board of Education for 23 years, served on Sebring’s Park and Recreation board, was a member of Sebring City Council, Tadmor Shrine, and the Mahoning County Fire Chiefs Association. He always wanted the best for Sebring and most times did not take no for an answer. He was honored and presented with many awards throughout his years of service. Some include Sebring Lions Club Citizen of the Year, Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year, Sebring High School Distinguished Alumni Award, and the city of Sebring named Fire Station #1 after him.
Outside of work and his community service, Jim was a true family man. You could always find him at one of his grandchildren’s events cheering them on. He enjoyed driving around town on his golf cart, mowing everyone’s grass that he thought needed done, and many trips with his family to Ocean City Maryland. He leaves to cherish his memory, his wife of nearly 60 years, Bobbi (Benning) Cannell, his three children, Chris (Tim Hetrick) Cannell, Jim (Lesley) Cannell, and Mikki (David) Kanagy. His grandchildren include Lauren (Joey) James, Jacob (Halley) Frank, Joshua (Kara) Frank, Johnny (Karlie) Cannell, Evan (Anto) Cannell, Natalie (fiancé Tom Lally) Cannell, Sam Kanagy, Michael Kanagy, and Alli Kanagy. He also leaves behind seven great-grandchildren: Rowan, Evie, Remmington, Harper, Hallie, Jonas, and Chloe; his brother Jac Cannell and many nieces and nephews.
Friends may join us for calling hours Thursday, July 28th from 1pm-9pm, with the family present from 5pm-9pm. The funeral will be held on Friday, July 29th at 10am. All services will take place at Sebring Fire Station #1. Memorial contributions can be made to Alliance Shrine Transportation. The Cannell Family wants to thank Alliance Hospice and Mike Springer for all their help in the last few weeks. Friends and family May share their online condolences at www.deansfuneralhome.com. Arrangements are entrusted to Dean’s Funeral Home Sebring, Ohio.