Lt. Col. Burton K. Bright, USAF (Retired), age 79, of Fernandina Beach, passed away on Wednesday evening, March 30, 2016 at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, from complications of pancreatic cancer.
Born in Washington, DC he was the elder of two children and only son born to the late Herbert Lawrence Bright and Matilda Hoffman Bright. He grew up in a conservative Jewish home in the DC area and was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School. After high school, he attended DC’s American University where he obtained his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Public Administration.
He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1962 where he served until retiring with the rank of Lt. Col. in 1990. During his 28 year tenure he proudly served in Vietnam and held leadership positions throughout the United States and Europe. For his accomplishments and stellar service he received many commendations and awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal. While serving on active duty he also attended the University of Missouri where he earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
Following his retirement from the military in 1990, he worked as an Academic Advisor and Professor for Valdosta State University as well as opened and served as the first Executive Director for the Lowndes/Valdosta Arts Commission and Cultural Art Center where he curated regional art shows, developed educational programs, and brought in touring performers. In 1993 he accepted a position at Valdosta State University’s satellite school at Kings Bay Naval Base and relocated with his wife and son, Eric, to Fernandina Beach, FL where he continued to share his knowledge as an instructor and academic advisor while building a close and loving community.
He was active at the local Fernandina Beach YMCA where he served as a Board Member. He had also served as a Youth Soccer Referee and was a member of the Nassau Sports Fishing Association.
While sharing stories of his giving and humorous nature, his family recalls his many appearances as Rolo the Clown at birthday parties throughout the years. An avid reader, writer, and lover of books and the arts, he also immensely enjoyed jogging, swimming and hiking with his friends and family throughout the country, which included multiple traverses of the Grand Canyon. As a theater lover and performer, he was active with the Amelia Island Community Theater and enjoyed attending the Opera.
As a founding member of ROMEO (retired old men eating out), he enjoyed visiting with fellow members over coffee and conversation in various locations throughout the island. With his wife, Donna, he hosted neighbors and friends, old and new, for “Coffee Club” on Sunday mornings, poolside at their home.
Lt. Col. Bright leaves behind, his wife, Donna M. Bright, Fernandina Beach, FL, children, Robin Round (Dennis), Missoula, MT, Ashley Bright (Allyson), Casper, WY, Spencer Skinner (Tigist), presently serving in the U.S. Army and stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, Hilary Skinner (Lesley Siegel), Philadelphia, PA, Eric Skinner, Kaiserslautern, Germany, his sister, Patti MacKay (Ken), San Jose, CA, eleven grandchildren, four nieces, one nephew, and friends that have remained in his life since his childhood.
Funeral services will be at 11:00 am on Monday, April 4, 2016 in the Burgess Chapel of Oxley Heard with his son, Ashley Bright, officiating.
Full military honors will be accorded by the United States Air Force Honors Detail from Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, Georgia.
His family will begin receiving friends and family at the funeral home, from 10:00 am until the hour of service at 11:00 am.