James "Jimmy" L. Helms, Jr.

February 17, 2023

CHARLOTTE – James “Jimmy” L. Helms, Jr. of Charlotte passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family Friday, February 17, 2023.

Jimmy was a man of many talents and involved in so many things in his life.  He served in the United States Navy aboard the USS McClelland, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department’s Lake Patrol/Citizens on Patrol.  Jimmy was a past Mason with St. Andrew’s Lodge in Charlotte.  He was one of the original NASCAR grand national drivers, driving for Buck Baker and then independently.  Jimmy built boats, planes, furniture, and a plethora of things for his family, friends, and community.  He never stopped learning, and that passion enabled him to earn a pilot’s license, play musical instruments, build or repair anything, and in his final years, paint.  He accomplished many things in his life and touched so many people, but his greatest achievement to him was his family.

Jimmy is survived by his children, Jimmy Helms III and his wife, Stephanie, Donnie Helms, Jimi Gibson and his wife, Carly; grandchildren, Chassidy Helms Jones and her husband, Charles, Zach Helms and his wife, Jessica, Crystal Smithwick Sparkman, Candance Smithwick, Chad Smithwick and Jordan Helms and his wife, Kaylin; great-grandchildren, Matthew, Julianna, Carly, Isaiah, Ace, Haley, Jordan, Grayson, Olivia, Warner, and Brooke.  He was preceded in death by his wife, Frances J. Helms; daughter, Tamara H. Smithwick and his son, Timothy Helms.

A memorial service will be held 2:00 PM on Thursday, March 9, 2023, at Westerly Hills Baptist Church, 232 South Sutton Road, Fort Mill, SC.  The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service at the church. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered in memory of Jimmy to Shriners Hospitals for Children, Attn: Office of Development, 2900 Rocky Pt. Dr, Tampa, FL 33607 or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. 

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC 28204; (704) 641-7606. Online condolences may be shared at www.kennethpoeservices.com.

Share your memories & condolences


  • Frank Poindexter

    Rest in peace good friend. Loved you and glad we crossed paths in this earthly life. I know you’re in a better place and hope to see you again on life's golden shores?

  • Brenda Gladden

    Such a kind and loving man who opened his heart and home to all. Thank you for being a teacher of goodness and kindness to to your family and friends. You will be missed but your influence will endure thru time.

  • R.L McKinney

    So sorry to hear of Jimmy,s passing. He was one of the early independent racers in Nascar, He did so much with so little backing in his racing career..He truly loved competing and doing his best with what he had.

  • Kirk Hildenbrand

    I’m sorry for your loss. I remember having dinner with him many nights while working at CMPD. He was a great and humble man. If you look up the definition of a life well lived, you will see Jimmy. God Bless

  • Sheri Novak

    My condolences to the family. His character and zest for life were clearly passed on to his children and grandchildren.
    - Novak/Austin family

  • Dale Cuff

    So sorry for your loss. Jimmy was a fine man and was loved by many and will surely be missed. We had many good times together on the lake and at the fire station. I will always cherish them and hold them close to my heart. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Jim Mathews

    Jimmy and family. 8 am so sorry for your loss, though I personally didn’t know your father, by his namesake child I could tell what kind of person he was. Be proud of him, as we all should be. Honor him with your tears and remember him greatly with your heart.

  • Dave Nelson

    Tight lines Jimmy

  • Terry Everhart

    To the family, I’m so sorry for your loss. Jimmy, Big Jimmy, Pops, or however you referred to him was was truly a lean that loved & cared for his family & friends. He showed that in everything he did.. He was the best friend a guy could ever hope to find & I was blessed to have him in mine & Nancy’s life over the years. He will.be missed.