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“Community Servant”

Panola deputies escorted members of Sheriff Hugh W. “Shot” Bright’s family to the civic center floor for the beginning of his funeral Wednesday afternoon. Deputy Earl Burdette is escorting the sheriff’s widow, Mary Nell Bright. Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Rev. Clay Baker was one of two ministers who officiated at the civic center service for the fallen Panola sheriff. Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Batesville Civic Center officials estimated the crowd at Sheriff Bright’s funeral to number between 1,200 and 1,300 people. Scores of law enforcement officers from adjacent and distant jurisdictions were among those attending. Panolian photo by Angie Ledbetter

Panola sheriff eulogized as ‘servant’ at somber service

 Panola Sheriff Hugh Wayne “Shot” Bright was eulogized Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009 at the Batesville Civic Center where a crowd estimated at 1,200 gathered to pay final respects.

“We did not ever think we would be here doing this today,” said Rev. Karen O’Brien. She asked those attending to “give thanks to God for Shot’s life.”

O’Brien described the late sheriff as a “self made man” who “took everything God gave him, and he rose high.”  She read from Psalms 90 and 23 and from Rev. 21, and urged Panola County to take his family into their hearts.

“Let Shot’s grandchildren know how much he loved them,” O’Brien said.

Bright was a “community servant who reached beyond the call of duty,” Rev. Clay Baker said.

“Friends are the family you choose,” Baker continued. “Shot had a lot of family.” Baker praised the late sheriff’s people skills with both children and seniors. “He always had something to say to the senior citizens of this great county,” he said.

“He knew people and he knew how to pick people,” Baker said, speaking to Bright’s deputies and sheriff’s department employees who will continue high standards of law enforcement and security for Panola citizens.

“We are all grateful for the things that were good and kind and holy and helpful in Shot’s life,” Baker said.

Bagpipes playing a traditional funeral dirge opened the service.

Jay Johnson sang “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and “Come to Jesus” prior to the ministers’ remarks. Hollie Hays provided the piano prelude and postlude.

Blues musician Bobby Rush closed the service with “Farther Along” followed by “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the warm, wailing notes from Rush’s harmonica punctuating the conclusion of the service.