Fletcher Bright ’43, a lifelong advocate of the school his aunt founded more than 100 years ago, died on Christmas day.
Bright served as a trustee, board chair and ex-officio member of the board over the last four decades. He was honorary chairman of the school’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2013. The school established the Fletcher Bright ’43 Distinguished Alumnus Award during the centennial year to honor alumni who have exhibited brilliant and distinguished life-long work in a significant field or endeavor or service.
A real estate executive and fiddle player extraordinaire, Bright received the 2016 Ruth Holmberg Arts Leadership Award for his contribution to the arts in Chattanooga and the 2005 Governor’s Award in the Arts, Folk Heritage Award. Bright and his son, George Bright, began the 3 Sisters Festival, a bluegrass celebration in Chattanooga.
“Being the nephew of school founder Mary Gardner Bright, Fletcher has had a lifelong connection to the school. As a student, graduate, board chair, benefactor, and friend to hundreds of students, faculty, and supporters, Fletcher has had a deeply profound influence on the school,” said Bright Head of School O.J. Morgan. “His humor, support, and kindness have leant guidance to the school's spirit and its impact on children.”
Bright’s father, Gardner Bright, was the younger brother of Mary Bright, who founded The Bright School in 1913. Miss Bright died in 1967 after serving as headmistress of the school from the founding until 1961. Fletcher Bright often recalled that his love of music was inspired at his aunt’s school, where he took violin lessons.
Bright may be best known to generations of students as the lead member of the bluegrass band, Dismembered Tennesseans. He often brought the band to play for students, most recently in 2016 for the fourth grade’s Tennessee celebration. The stage of the school’s Centennial Theater, renovated in 2013, was named the Fletcher Bright Stage in his honor.
“His aunt's reminder that the school should be ‘a happy place to which children gladly come’ is something he helped to continue through his life. Of course, one of many ways he demonstrated this was bringing the Dismembered Tennesseans to school each year in order to share the love and joy he found in his music,” Morgan said.
Bright is survived by his children George Bright ’69, Lizzer Bright Graham ‘71, Frank Bright ’73, Ann Bright Monk and Lucy Bright Griffin.
The Bright School extends its deepest condolences to the Bright family. We’ve lost a dear friend of the school.