James Everett Light received his heavenly reward on October 11, 2023 in Hugoton, Kansas at Pioneer Manor, where he lived with his beloved wife of 75 years and 10 months, Mary Frances Chambers Light.
James was born three miles east of Rolla, Kansas on April 21, 1925. He was the ninth of ten children of William Clarence Light and Zula Tarter Light. James attended Rolla Schools, graduating in 1943.
In 1944, at 19 years old, he answered his nation’s call and was drafted into military service, even though deferments were available to those with brothers already serving. Despite having these papers, he chose not to utilize them, demonstrating his courage and commitment to his country. He did basic training at Camp Wolters Army Post in Mineral Wells, Texas. James served in the Rainbow division, arriving in Southern France in December 1944. He went into Germany and then fought with his division toward Munich. James was an eyewitness to the horrors of war, arriving in late April 1945 at Dachau concentration camp in the first wave of Liberators. These haunting scenes made a profound impact on him for the rest of his life. He also spent 18 months with the occupation forces in Austria, guarding SS troops that were rebuilding walls and cleaning up war damage.
James purchased a camera while in Germany and started capturing the beauty of the world around him. This became one of his passions. He photographed landscapes, weddings, graduations, and countless family gatherings. This passion lives on in many of his children and grandchildren, some of whom are now professional photographers and videographers.
James returned home in July 1946. Shortly after his return from Europe, he started farming with his brothers Bill and Paul. In the summer of 1947, James began dating his forever sweetheart, Mary Frances Chambers, and the two were married on December 7, 1947. They drove to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles on their honeymoon. This would begin a lifetime of travel during the "down times" of farming. One of their highlights was when James and Mary Frances marched with the Morton County Band, which represented Kansas at President Kennedy’s Inaugural parade, the day after a terrible blizzard in Washington, D.C.
James and Mary Frances received Christ and never looked back. They have been faithful followers depending solely on their walk with God for the last 69 years.
James was active in the community, serving on several boards, including the Rolla School Board, where one fellow member remarked about the wisdom James brought to the board. “James did a lot of listening and didn’t speak much, but when he spoke it was a significant part of the final decision. James was a very wise man.”
Other boards on which James served include: Rolla Co-op board, Rolla City Council, Southwestern Christian University school board, and the Bishop’s Council of the International
Pentecostal Holiness Church in Oklahoma City. He served the Rolla Pentecostal Holiness Church as a song leader, treasurer, and maintenance manager and was a deacon for 68 years. James was a very generous man, financially supporting many ministries connected with revivals, musical groups, and missionary endeavors. Along with his brother-in-law Scott T Muse, his mother, and his brother Bill, he helped to build a library for Southwestern Christian University in Bethany, Oklahoma.
James loved his family deeply. He and Mary Frances created a loving home where everyone could gather for game nights of Chicken Foot Dominoes or Trivial Pursuit. He was a good cook whose specialties were smothered steak, roast, and hamburger stew. His homemade almond vanilla ice cream was always a celebratory dish that continues with his children and grandchildren.
In his later years, he never lost his insights and wisdom. He had a powerful memory and could recall stories from across his lifetime. In quiet moments, James would be vulnerable and would tell his deepest thoughts about life and the character of people.
James is survived by his wife of 75 years Mary Frances and six children - Ronald Light and wife Sharon of Oklahoma City; Courtney Light and wife Karen of Rolla and Amarillo; Marcus Light and wife Beverly of Rolla, Kansas; Kevin Light and wife Jackye of Hugoton, Kansas; Nolan Light of Bethany, Oklahoma; and Megan Tucker and husband Michael of Edmond, Oklahoma. He is also survived by his younger sister Lesta Muse of Oklahoma City, 16 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren, and countless nieces and nephews.
His grandchildren are: Ashton Light of Oklahoma City; Shari Light of Ocoee, Florida; Jamee Floyd and husband Justin of Amarillo, Texas; Jacob Light and wife BethAnn of Southern Shores, North Carolina; Tyler Light of Amarillo, Texas; Kelsey Merker and husband Andrew of Amarillo, Texas; Whitney Stilwell and husband Larry of Norman, Oklahoma; Steffan Light and wife Tara of Norman, Oklahoma; Lyndsay Sprecher and husband Dillyn of Norman, Oklahoma; Meredith Light of Norman, Oklahoma; Robert LeNeve and wife Shome of Hugoton, Kansas; Erica Salazar and husband Robert of Hugoton, Kansas; Sterling Light of Hugoton, Kansas; Nicole Dickie and husband Daniel of Taipei, Taiwan; Andrew Tucker and wife Jennifer of Des Moines, Iowa; and Kathryn (Katy) Tucker of Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii.
He was preceded in death by his brothers, Merton (Mertie) Gayle Light, Wayne Chester Light, and his sisters, Dorothy Cullison and her husband Isaac, Helen and her husband Lester (Lec) Showalter, Elsie Holcomb and her husband Howard, Edna Gilbert and her husband Clarence, Paul Light and his wife Beulah, brother W. J. (Bill) Light and his wife Mardelle, brother-in-law Scott Muse, stillborn son Nathan Edwin Light, grandson William Everett Light, and granddaughter Tara Jean Light.
The family would like to thank everyone for their support and prayers during this time.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Rolla Pentecostal Holiness Church, in care of Robson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 236, Hugoton, KS 67951.
Visitation will be held Sunday, October 15, 2023, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday, October 16, 2023, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Robson Funeral Home, 314 S. Van Buren, Hugoton.
Funeral service will be held on Tuesday, October 17, 2023, at 10 a.m. at the Rolla Methodist Church, in Rolla. Burial to follow at Rolla Cemetery.
Robson Funeral Home of Hugoton has been entrusted to the funeral services.