James Mitchell Bright

Published 2:11 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Aug. 7, 1933 – Dec. 26, 2023

NATCHEZ – Memorial services for James Mitchell Bright, 90, who died Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2023, in Madison, MS will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at St. Mary Basilica. Mass will be celebrated by Father Aaron Williams and concelebrated by Father Francis Cosgrove.

Visitation will be from 10 until 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, at St. Mary Basilica.

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James (Jim) Mitchell Bright was born on Aug. 7, 1933, in Purvis, Mississippi. He graduated from Purvis High School in 1951. He attended Pearl River Community College and then joined the United States Navy in 1952. He served in the Navy for four years aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown. Upon returning from the Navy in 1956, he attended Mississippi State University, graduating with a degree in Forestry Science in 1958.  He was employed by the Mississippi Forestry Commission and his first assignment was to Natchez, MS where he served as County Forester for Adams, Wilkinson, and Jefferson counties. It was in Natchez that he met and then married the love of his life, Dorothy (Dot) Elizabeth Gilbert on Nov. 4, 1961.  Throughout their courtship, they attended daily Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. 

In 1965, they moved to Jackson, MS when he received a promotion to Tree Improvement Forester. Jim loved his work as a forester and his coworkers at the Mississippi Forestry Commission where he went on to serve as Chief Fire Protection Officer and Deputy State Forester. He retired in 1996 after 38 years of service in a job he dearly loved. Upon retirement, Jim and Dot returned to Jefferson County and to St. Mary’s, sharing the same pew as they did during their engagement.

Jim’s deep faith was evident to those who knew him, as was his love for his wife and family. As devout Catholics, their marriage was a testament of their faith and a beacon of God’s love in the world. Jim loved his two daughters, Teresa and Lisa, and happily accompanied them to their many activities. He loved fly fishing, being in nature, and quail hunting, especially with his brother-in-law, T.G. Broadus, and his bird dog, Sport. He was a man of few words, known for his gentle nature but also for his quick wit. Jim had a joke for every occasion and brought laughter to all around him.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dot Bright; daughters, Teresa Speer (Mike) and Lisa Wilburn (Tony).  Jim, who was affectionately known as “Pappy”, is also survived by five grandchildren, Collice Nail, Jarred Nail, Dalton Nail, Noelle Theis, and Blake Avenmarg. He is also survived by five great-grandchildren, Abby, Pyper and Mickey Nail, Walker Hamburg, and George Theis.

He is preceded in death by his grandson, Marcus Nail, great-grandson, Uri Hamburg; son-in-law, Michael Nail and his parents and siblings.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that you donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or St. Mary’s Basilica in Natchez, MS.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at lairdfh.com.