Blue Ridge Distinguished Member James Whitney Brush Has Passed On

Ron Hillabrand
Posted in: News

Chartered 21 April 1928 in Asheville, North Carolina, and later became the Blue Ridge Chapter, it is the oldest active chapter in Western North Carolina.

June 24, 2023, marked the passing of James (Jim) Whitney Brush a long-time distinguished member of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. On July 15, 2023, a funeral service was held at the Mills River Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m. Thereafter, a committal service was held at the Mills River Episcopal Church of the Holy Family (founded by “Jim” and his wife “Evie”). The Blue Ridge Chapter Color Guard marched as a part of the procession in the committal service. Blue Ridge Chapter Color Guard members in attendance were: Craig Issacson (Blue Ridge Grave Marking Committee and Western North Carolina Regional Vice-President), Steve Greene (Blue Ridge President), GarryLinton (Blue Ridge Vice-President and Color Guard Commander) who read the SAR part of the committal liturgy. Tom Rightmyer (Blue Ridge Chaplain), Brett Callaway, Larry Chapman, Ron Chapman, and Ken Welgarz. In attendance on that sunny day with the temperature in the 80s were about 150 people from various parts of the country.

During the reception that followed the committal service, North Carolina Regional Vice-President Craig Isaacson offered a eulogy about “Jim” Brush as follows:

“They usually pass on the sidewalk every day. A vast majority of them never ask for special attention or recognition. They just pass by a stranger like two ships passing in the night. A friend or an acquaintance receives a few salutary words or a smile and a nod of the head at least. As inconspicuous as they may sound, their legacy shapes our society and our nation’s self-image.”

“Who is this elusive person, you may be asking? That person is a Patriot.”

“Webster,s Dictionary defines a “patriot” as, ” A person who loves his/her country and is ready to boldly support and defend it.” In describing a patriot, President Abraham Lincoln once said, ” I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

“Or try this definition on for size. Too bad it is from an”unknown” source because I really like it. “I think there is one office higher than the President, and I would like to call that patriot.”

“All of this “defining” the term patriot brings us to this assembly today and that is to honor a true Patriot who has been in our midst for the past 98 1/2 years. That is our late husband-father-grandfather-friend and compatriot James Brush. (By the way, a compatriot is a fellow citizen of a nation or country).”

“Jim was born in Washington D.C. in the years following World War I. With a brilliant mind, he began college at MIT as an engineering student in 1941 and was summoned by the United States Army to attend the Specialized Engineering College at Rutgers University in New Jersey. With the high test scores Jim earned in that college curriculum, the United States Army assigned him to the secret enclave of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico where he assisted in the development of the triggering switches that were used on the atomic bomb. On the initial detonation day (July 16, 1945, at Alamogordo, New Mexico) Brush was located one mile away to monitor the fall-out and warn Basque shepherds of any impending peril should the wind directions shift.”

“As the Second World War wound down, Jim finished his engineering degree at MIT and moved to his hometown of Washington D.C. There, as a member of the United States Navy Sea Ship Command, he became instrumental in the development of electrical equipment on our nation’s new battleships.”

“The years would pass and by the turn of the 21st century, Jim Brush and his wife Evie found their home in Mills River, North Carolina. While in retirement, Jim followed his interest in genealogy and joined the National Society Sons of the American Revolution. The Blue Ridge Chapter was very fortunate to have Jim as a member.”

As in his military and civilian life, Jim excelled at helping others find their legacy from ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War and the formation of the world’s longest-lasting republic. While a member of the Blue Ridge Chapter, Compatriot Brush served as Chapter President, Secretary, Registrar, Genealogist, and Historian.

His accomplishments included:

+25-year Member, Registered 12 of his Patriot ancestors with NSSAR, Primary sponsor for 27 new members into the SAR and the Blue Ridge Chapter.

Awards received include:

Bronze Good Citizen Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Liberty Medal, Bronze Distinguished Service Medal, 25-Year SAR Membership Award, SAR War Service

Medal, and the Atomic Veterans Service Certificate.




“Compatriot James Brush left all of us with an outstanding legacy. All of us were fortunate to know this Christian man; a gentle man in every sense of the word. Webster’s Dictionary must have been looking at Jim Brush when it published its definition of a “patriot.” “A person who loves his/her country and is ready to boldly support and defend it.”

Perhaps Adlai Stevenson II summarized the Patriot named James Brush best when he penned, “Patriotism is not a short, frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil, steady dedication of a lifetime.”

I speak for all of us when I say, “Compatriot James Brush”, you will always be in our hearts and memories. God speed old friend.”

After this heart-felt eulogy,  Blue Ridge Color Guard member Larry Chapman presented a properly folded United States flag to Evie Brush.

It is easy to see that the Blue Ridge Chapter is an active, energetic busy chapter that is always looking for new members to help us reach our challenging goals for the recognition of the sacrifices our Patriots made for us to enjoy all the freedoms we have today.