Van Eugene Brighton 1948 - 2011
Paid family tribute
Van Eugene Brighton, 63, embarked on his sacred journey on November 9, 2011. He was born on June 11, 1948, in Junction City, the only son of Bernice Lafferty Brighton and Dale Eugene Brighton. He is survived by his wife, Jan; mother, Bernice; daughter, Kristin, and husband, Ben Ward; son, Michael, and wife, Heather; stepson, Bren McMillen; and four grandchildren: Ryan and Kate Ward, and Mary and Andrew Brighton. He is reuniting with his father and all grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Van spent his childhood in Irving and Frankfort, before spending his teen years in Kansas City, Kansas. He was a standout athlete in track and basketball at Washington High School, selected as athlete of the year for the class of 1966. He attended Kansas State University, where he pledged the Beta Theta Phi house, studied physical education, and served as a basketball manager under Cotton Fitzsimmons. He graduated in 1970, and continued to closely follow K-State sports the rest of his life.
Upon college graduation, he married Sandy Millsap and taught at Lucky High School before becoming the club pro and later club manager for Stagg Hill Golf Course. He spent many years in the golf business, at Stagg Hill and later at the Manhattan Country Club. Golf — and more importantly, teaching golf — was a lifelong passion to which he returned many times in his professional life.
After leaving the Manhattan Country Club, he worked with Casper Building Services and then at Keating and Associates, before purchasing Green’s Book Store, which he renamed Office World.
In the late 1980s, Van went to work for Borck Brothers Menswear before moving to Kansas City to work for Verl’s Custom Tailors on the Country Club Plaza. In 1989, he married Jan, and they made their home together in Kansas City. They decided to move back to Manhattan in 1994 to be closer to his children, his mother, and the community he loved.
With this move, Van returned to his passion, golf. He opened his own golf academy and gave hundreds of private golf lessons, to both adults and youth of all levels. As a coach, he touched the lives of many young people — mentoring them both in golf and in life.
In 2004, Van took an opportunity to open his own property management business, moving to Lawrence to work side-by-side with Jan who had become a Realtor for Stephens Real Estate. Together they became quite a team, assisting clients — many who became dear friends — find the perfect home.
A true Renaissance man with a lot of passion and knowledge about a multitude of topics, Van also devoted himself to an ongoing quest to learn about natural health, nutrition, wellness and spirituality. Through this journey, he made many long-lasting friendships with kindred spirits across the globe. After being diagnosed with cancer, he approached his battle in his own way, and did so with confidence and peace in his decisions. As a final gift to the world, Van’s eyes were donated to help others.
Van has touched the lives of thousands of people and will be greatly missed. Please join his family as we honor him with a funeral service held in Manhattan at 10:00 am at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1110 College Avenue, in Manhattan. Internment will immediately follow the service at Sunrise Cemetery in Manhattan. All friends are also invited to a Celebration of Life, which will be held from 2 to 4 pm Sunday, November 13, at the Lawrence Country Club, 400 Country Club Terrace, Lawrence.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Van Brighton Memorial Fund in care of Capitol Federal Savings, 1401 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS, 66502.
This information was provided to the Journal-World as a paid tribute.