Kathleen F. Bright of Hingham died at home on October 1, 2020, of complications of frontotemporal dementia. She was 73 years old.
Born Kathleen Gould Friedman on April 27, 1947, in Springfield, Illinois, she was the daughter of Benson Leonard Friedman, an accountant, and Kathleen Funkhouser Friedman, a schoolteacher. Her paternal grandparents were poor Jewish immigrants from Romania and Russia who settled near Chicago. Her maternal grandfather was one-time postmaster, county judge and two-term state representative from the downstate Illinois agricultural community of Albion. Educated in the public school system, Kathy graduated from Springfield High School in 1965 and went on to receive her B.A. in English from the College of William & Mary in Virginia in 1969.
After college, she took a job in the Capitol Hill office of Senator Charles H. Percy (R-Ill.), where she worked as secretary to Percy’s foreign policy advisor and later as minority clerk to the Senate Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. It was in Percy’s office that she met an 18-year-old intern from Massachusetts, five years her junior, Thomas R. Bright. What began as an office friendship within a few months became an unlikely but enduring romance that lasted throughout Tom’s college education at Yale and culminated with their marriage at the Washington National Cathedral on June 9, 1973. They have been inseparable for 50 years.
The Brights moved to Torrington, Connecticut, in 1974 where Tom worked as a reporter and editor at a small daily newspaper and Kathy worked as an assistant buyer in a local department store. They returned to Washington in 1975 when Tom was hired as press secretary to Congressman (later Senator) William S. Cohen (R-Maine). Their son, Arthur Aaron Bright IV, was born in April 1976, after which Kathy restricted her work outside the home to part-time secretarial jobs.
In 1979, the Brights decided to leave Washington and move to Tom’s hometown, Hingham, Massachusetts, where he joined the family business, Hitchcock Shoes, Inc., catalog retailers of wide shoes. A second child, Elizabeth Benson Bright, was born in May 1980. Kathy’s life thereafter centered on children and family, although she did find time to launch a custom knitting business and later traded in vintage costume jewelry. She also played recreational and team tennis with great enthusiasm.
Committed to serving her community and widely respected for her intelligence and insights, she served many years on the board of the Hingham Visiting Nurse Association, including a term as president, and was one of the first two women chosen as trustees of the Hingham Cemetery Corporation, a board on which she served for 29 years. She was also co-president of the Derby Academy Parents Association in the 1980s, a community representative to the board of the New England Friends Homes for several years, and a member of the New North Church Parish Committee for 34 years.
Proud of her heritage as a Springfield native and of her hometown’s association with Abraham Lincoln, Kathy was always pleased that fate brought her to live in Hingham, the hometown of the first Lincolns to settle in America, including Abraham’s forebears.
Kathy is survived by her husband of 47 years, her son Arthur Bright of Boston, her daughter Elizabeth Bright of Newmarket, NH, and her brother, Ross S. Friedman of Gainesville, Virginia.
Burial in Hingham Cemetery will be private. Memorial arrangements will be announced at a later date.
Gifts in Kathy’s memory may be directed to the:
Hingham Cemetery Corporation, 12 South Street, Hingham or
Norwell VNA and Hospice, 120 Longwater Drive, Norwell.
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