American Veteran 04

James Albert Lightsey

August 14, 1935 ~ July 21, 2023 (age 87) 87 Years Old


James Albert Lightsey (August 14, 1935 – July 21, 2023) – Fort Mill, SC - Mr. James Albert Lightsey, child of God, family man and bridge builder extraordinaire went home to be with the Lord on July 21, 2023 after a months-long battle with dementia.

He was born in Appling County, Georgia to the late Rufus Redd Lightsey and Beulah Pearce Lightsey, the oldest of their five sons. As a boy, James (known as Albert to family and folks from Georgia), helped with farming activities including plowing fields, picking cotton and hanging tobacco in barns. As a young man, he met the love of his life, Jewell Spell, and the two eloped and married on November 25, 1956. James proudly served in the United States Army Reserves for over six years before being honorably discharged in 1962.

He initially worked for the Georgia Department of Transportation before moving on to enjoy a long career in bridge construction beginning with Diamond Construction and going on to spend the majority of his career with L.R. Ryan which became United Contractors, Inc. (now known as United Infrastructure Group) out of Chester, South Carolina. James worked in all aspects of bridge construction from crane operator to job superintendent before retiring at the age of 75. If you’ve traveled anywhere in South Carolina, you’ve crossed a bridge that he built including the original bridges constructed over the Catawba River as part of Interstate 77 in the mid-70s which was the project that brought him and his family to Fort Mill where they settled for nearly 50 years. Although he was not an engineer by degree, he definitely had the mind of an engineer. His work ethic was unmatched and there was no problem that he couldn’t solve – earning him the nickname “MacGyver.”

As much as he loved his work (and he did love his work), his family was everything to him. He was the epitome of a family man – always putting his family first in everything he did. You never had to wonder if you were loved or if he was proud of you – he told you and he showed you. James enjoyed golf, bowling (he and Jewell were in a bowling league called the Friday Night Leftovers for years), going to bingo with Jewell, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks, NASCAR racing and country and bluegrass music. He and Jewell enjoyed many bluegrass festivals together seeing all their favorite bands – especially Balsam Range.

In addition to his wife of 66 years, Jewell Spell Lightsey, James is survived by his four children, James Kelly Lightsey, Sr. (Cindi) of Fort Mill, SC, Duane Eddy Lightsey (Kim) of Moore, SC, Teresa Lightsey Butler (Larry) of Denver, NC and Cathy Lightsey Weaver (Ben) of Fort Mill, SC; six grandchildren, Patrick Wayne Lightsey (Brittany) of York, SC, James Kelly Lightsey, Jr. (Sara) of Indian Land, SC, Jennifer Kristen Myers of Charlotte, NC, Tyler Jordan Lightsey of Moore, SC, William Benjamin Weaver, Jr. and Lucas James Weaver, both of Fort Mill, SC; three great-grandchildren, Preston Levi Lightsey, Lilly Roxanne Lightsey, Lucas Jackson Lightsey, all of York, SC; great-great grandson, Lander James Lightsey; and brothers Allen “Little Bit” Lightsey (Lounelle), Richard “Squeak” Lightsey, Alvin “Shaver” Lightsey (Kathy) and Keith Lightsey, all of Baxley, GA.

The family would like to thank the staff of Westminster Health and Rehabilitation Center and Hospice & Community Care of Rock Hill (especially Daniel Ratterree) for their care and assistance over the last several months.

Memorials may be made to Hospice & Community Care of Rock Hill ( PO Box 993, Rock Hill, SC 29731 or the South Carolina Junior Golf Association ( PO Box 286 Irmo, SC 29063.

Visitation with the family will begin at 1:00pm on Monday, July 24, 2023, in the Fellowship Hall of Philadelphia United Methodist Church located at 1691 Highway 160 West, Fort Mill, South Carolina, 29708. The funeral will follow in the sanctuary at 3:00pm.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, 2023, at Swain Funeral Home at 1632 Hatch Parkway North in Baxley, Georgia.


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Memorial Service
July 29, 2023

3:00 PM
Chapel of Swain Funeral Home
1632 Hatch Parkway North
Baxley, GA 31513


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