A Life Lived: Jim Bishop was a life-long learner, who was a doer and giver

Published 12:28 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Editorial Director
Albert Schweitzer is credited with saying “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
Jim Bishop as long as he was able found ways to give and serve. Sometimes, it was as a father making dinner for his girls, other times it was more dramatic such a role in “Liberty!” at Sycamore Shoals State Park, or lending support to the Volunteer Sunday School Class at First Free Will Baptist Church on cooking day. He would show up early and open the large cans of vegetables for the ladies and later would help bag the dinners to deliver to the elderly and shut-in. When the cooking was halted because of COVID, it was Jim who kept asking, “When are we going to cook again?”
Jimmy Arthur “Jim” Bishop, 86, died Jan. 31 after an extended illness.
Jon Ruetz, former director of the drama “The Wataugans” later called “Liberty,” wrote in a tribute to Bishop: “A brave patriot has laid down his old rifle and powder horn — liberty’s defenders — for the final time…Long years ago, on the banks of the ancient, beautiful Watauga River, another valiant stalwart would comment to those gathered to reenact the history of two centuries before thus: ’You are the best of men.’ Those simple words stand in eulogy to Jim Bishop, for he epitomized the best of us, and all we have been, and all we hope to be. He lived, loved, and laughed so well. His big, generous heart beat plain and pure…”
Jim’s roots in local history went deep. He grew up in Cat Island, the son of Worley T. and Mary Eliza Jordan Bishop. Jim often described Cat Island residents as one big family. He was one of the leaders in the movement to name the park behind the jail the Cat Island Park, and was a founder of the annual Cat Island Reunion. He enjoyed his Cat Island family.
Jim also loved his church family at First Free Will Baptist, where he attended and served faithfully. He took his turn at giving the Deacon’s Devotions and it was always unique with a nugget of Biblical wisdom and hope for everyday living. He was also active in the Adult Activity group.
Jim was a well-read person and was always seeking to learn something new. He was a clever — and funny — storyteller. Herb Roberts, former Superintendent of Sycamore Shoals State Park, said he would always remember Jim’s wit and kindness and the fun they had together working on the drama “Liberty!”
Jim could do a little bit of everything. When his daughter, Lisa, had a restaurant in the old Franklin Clinic, Jim made dessert every day — dump cake was his favorite thing to make, although, he could make a good chocolate cake. “His cornbread was the best, and he insisted on making it until just recently when he became unable to do so,” said Lisa.
In addition to Lisa, he had a second daughter, Teresa, and several grandchildren, whom he loved tremendously. “He was such a good daddy, very kind and gentle. There was nothing harsh about him,” said Lisa.
In addition to his outside interests, Jim enjoyed watching TV, with “Rawhide” being his favorite show. He also enjoyed the crossword puzzle in the newspaper, and he was a collector of the most unusual things — nuts, bolts, and screws. “He had jars and jars of them in a building behind the house. When he emptied a mayonnaise or jelly jar…it was destined to become a holder of his treasures,” said Lisa with a laugh.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis, and all of his brothers and a sister except for one, Kenneth. “He came from a large family and they had a hard time growing up, but he never complained. There was a lot of love in his family,” said Lisa.
Jim served in the U.S. Navy during the early 1950s and retired from working at Raytheon.
It is true that we make a life by what we give. Jim Bishop was one of those fellows who enjoyed a wonderful, fulfilling life because of the seeds he planted along the way. He invested in a lot of lives by his giving, often by just lending a listening ear or an encouraging word.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox