Obituary: James Thomas Bright Jr., 71

James Thomas Bright Jr., 71, was easy to love and hard to kill. He passed away peacefully on Wednesday, July 17, 2019, surrounded by his family.


While he was not born in to privilege, he felt it was his privilege to be tested.

Born in Louisville on October 11, 1947, he was poor and was quite proud of it. He never missed an opportunity to congratulate you on your own good fortune and remind you of exactly poor he used to be.

A graduate of DuPont Manual High School. He was by all accounts a terrible student. He didn’t graduate so much as he was given a diploma and asked to leave. His poor grades also did not allow him to have the moral authority over his children when bringing home bad report cards. When this happened, he just resorted to telling his children how poor once was.

Jim joined the navy during the Vietnam War. He served honorably. In 1967 during that service on the U.S.S. Forrestal, he survived one of the worst naval accidents in U.S. history when a catastrophic fire broke out on board.

In a documentary on the catastrophe, U.S. Navy commented. “A fire at sea is the ultimate nightmare for any sailor. You can’t run away from it. There is nowhere to go. It is a fight for survival. Your instincts have to be right. Your courage pinned to you like a badge”.

While Jim survived that disaster, 134 souls ended their tours of duty that day.

The echoes of that singular event remained with him every day for the rest of his life.

After leaving the Navy, he joined the United States Army Reserve where he held the rank Staff Sergeant. He served in Iraq during Desert Storm.

His military training spilled into his home life. Most notably during family camping trips. He considered tents and sleeping bags extravagant. And it wasn’t really camping until you shot somebody.

He was proud of his sons. He was proud of his granddaughters. He was proud of his wife. Jim delighted in the successes of others. His love was unconditional. His support of his family was unwavering.

Jim had an uncanny ability to love those who were hard to love. He served others selflessly. He kept his promises. Truly, in Jim there was no guile.

While serving as a High School ROTC instructor he met a young man without a family who needed more than a role model. Jim’s family of three became a family of four as they brought a foster child into their loving home.

He was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was more at home at church than anywhere and he made church feel like home for others. He made covenants with the Almighty God and kept them.

He was proud of that faith.

As his life progressed, the thing he was most proud of was being a grandfather. His three granddaughters were the light of his life. He would scold them for raiding his stash of treats even though he stocked it full in preparation of their every visit. He taught them to fish. He taught them to drive. He taught them to sharpen a knife. He taught them how to shoot a gun. They were closer than most. He was their Papa.

As Jim grew older his body began to fail him. He collected chronic diseases like some collect baseball cards. And yet as is body betrayed him, he persisted. He continued to serve and to love. He is a man whose life is worthy of emulation. He is was a disciple, a husband, a father, a son, and a veteran. He was loyal and always did what was right for his God, family, and country.

He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Mary Francis Inman and James Thomas Bright Sr.; two sisters, Lois Bright and Marilynn Bright.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Ruthanne Scrogham; two sons, B. Todd Bright and David Maddox; one brother, Michael Bright; and three granddaughters, Kinsey Bright, Sydney Bright and Tatum Bright.

The funeral is 11 a.m. Monday, July 22, 2019, in the chapel of Schoppenhorst, Underwood and Brooks Funeral Home, Mount Washington (Hwy 44 E. at 123 Winning Colors Dr.) with burial to follow at Highland Memorial Memory Gardens.

Visitation is 9-11 a.m. Monday at the funeral home. Expressions of sympathy may be made to your favorite disease curing organization. Lord knows he had most of them.

The Schoppenhorst, Underwood and Brooks Funeral Home in Mount Washington is in charge of arrangements.


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