Honoring Ambassador Hormel

James Catherwood Hormel

January 1, 1933 – August 13, 2021

In Loving Memory

Ambassador James C. Hormel, one of VIA's most devoted supporters, passed away August 13, 2021. To honor his generosity, VIA named its school at our Westwood campus after him in 2006, making it the first school specializing in autism services named in honor of an openly gay person. He most recently served as the Honorary Chair of VIA’s Bridge to Adulthood capital campaign. From VIA’s inception, Mr. Hormel encouraged the organization to build bridges with the greater community. He advocated that VIA not only serve a few families in their immediate circles, but for VIA to grow and become a resource for communities throughout central Virginia and beyond. 

His daughter, Alison Hormel Webb, is a Co-Founder of VIA and continues to be a strong advocate for families who experience challenges of autism in our region. Alison's children, Harry and Georgia Webb, helped their grandfather understand that people with autism, like all people, have their own distinctive strengths and weaknesses. He saw first-hand some of the unique challenges families experience as their loved ones with autism transition into adulthood. He also appreciated how evidence-based services can result in meaningful and profound changes in the lives of people with autism and their families. On one of his last visits to VIA’s school program, he chose to attend a student’s graduation before returning to his home in San Francisco. The family of the student was truly touched by his kindness and compassion.

Ambassador Hormel was a transformational supporter of VIA. He believed strongly in our mission, pushed us to grow and improve, and made so many things possible for our families, staff and community. He will be dearly missed.

Washington Post
Washington Post


Gifts in Memory
Gifts in Memory

Honoring His Legacy

The San Francisco Examiner
The San Francisco Examiner

Remembering James C. Hormel


Where a beautiful soul has traveled, beautiful memories remain forever...

Memories & Condolences

  1. Gretchen Ingram on September 01, 2021

    There are no words for the immense impact Ambassador Hormel had on the lives of so many, from our community here at VIA and in Charlottesville but across this country and beyond its borders. My love to you and your entire family, and may you find peace in this difficult time.

  2. Heather Dunbar on August 28, 2021

    My condolences to the entire family. What an impact he has had on the VIA community and more. VIA will continue to grow, I thank you for your commitment to VIA’s mission.

  3. Ethan Long on August 27, 2021

    I feel so very fortunate to have known Jim. He always had a kind smile and laugh for me when we would meet. I will be forever grateful for his belief in VIA’s mission, his passion for our vision, and his heartfelt encouragement. On behalf of all of VIA, I want to offer our sincerest condolences to Ali, Bernie, Michael, and the entire Hormel family.

  4. Liz & Ryan Wright on August 26, 2021

    Dear Ali, Bernie and familly: I offer my deepest condolences to you all. Your father was a pioneer and a visionary. What lucky people you are to have been a part of his family and our world is better because of him. He leaves a legacy in all that he has helped along the way. Our family is personally, incredibly thankful for him.

  5. Julie Patterson on August 26, 2021


    I am truly sorry to hear about the passing of your father. I wanted to send you, Bernie, Harry, and Georgia my condolences. My thoughts are with you and I am sending you all my love.

  6. David Gordon on August 26, 2021

    It was a huge honor to not only meet Jim but to learn from him how to help change communities. It is from Jim that I learned that our mission at VIA was about overcoming the challenges of autism—it was about civil rights, it was about dignity, it was about love. I am so sad by our loss but so proud he was one of our founders. To Bernie and Ali, my dear friends, and to the whole clan, I wish you peace and comfort and song during this time of grief.

  7. Jen Wooten on August 25, 2021

    Ali, Bernie, & family- my deepest condolences to you all. Sending you strength, peace, and love.


  8. Lauren Haskins on August 25, 2021

    Ali, Bernie, Harry, and Georgia,

    The VIA community is thinking of you all and our hearts are heavy with sympathy. Please accept our most heartfelt condolences.  The Ambassador’s legacy has had a large impact on all of our lives.  We will continue to build bridges and expand our community reach in his memory.

  9. Kaye Forsman on August 25, 2021

    Dear Ali and Bernie,
    I was so saddened to learn of the Ambassador’s passing.  Although I did not get the opportunity to know him well, I was in awe of his incredible generosity of time, talent and resources to those many organizations, causes, friends, and family that he so clearly loved.  His passion for life and desire to make this world a better place has touched so many; not the least of which include those individuals and families impacted by autism.  His legacy at VIA will long be remembered! My deepest condolences and love to you, and all of the Hormel “clan”.

  10. Carole Nelson on August 25, 2021

    It was an honor to have the privilege of meeting Ambassador Hormel at a VIA gala.  His presence at the gala quietly showcased his commitment to VIA’s mission and those we serve.  My prayers are with you, Ali and Bernie, as well as your family.  May you be wrapped in God’s grace and peace now and in the difficult days to come.

  11. Larry Garretson on August 21, 2021

    My sincerest condolences to Ali, Bernie, the kids, and to your entire family. The Ambassador leaves a resounding legacy at VIA, as he has everywhere he has focused his efforts. And it will echo in many, many lives for many years to come.

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