James Byron Higginbotham

James Byron Higginbotham

James Byron (Jim B.) Higginbotham was peacefully called to his heavenly home Friday, February 8, 2019.

Jim was born April 14, 1944 in Fernandina Beach, Fla. He grew up in Hilliard, Fla. and, as a young man, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Jim was baptized at Hilliard Baptist Church. At the time of his passing, he was a Fernandina Beach resident and active member of First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach, where he sang in the choir while also singing bass in the men’s ensemble A Few Good Men. He loved the Lord and his church family. He wanted to attend services even after he was unable to do so because of his declining health.

Jim graduated from Hilliard High School and was proud to play on the basketball team that brought home the State AA Basketball Championship in 1963. After graduating from Lake City Community College, where he continued to play basketball on an athletic scholarship, he enrolled in Middle Georgia State University in Warner Robbins, Ga.

In 1966, he joined the United States Air Force and was a proud veteran of the Vietnam War, during which he was stationed in the Philippines as an aeronautical mechanic. After returning home from Vietnam, he went to work with Houdaille-Duval-Wright construction company and was the superintendent on the downtown Fernandina Beach Centre Street redesign and building project. After completion, the city of Fernandina Beach offered him the position of director of Public Works. He retired from that position after more than 25 years of service.

He was a die-hard Georgia Bulldog Fan, loved to play golf, enjoyed riding his bike around the island, having late-afternoon coffee with his buddies, indulging in chocolate, and of course his favorite – politics!

Like his father before him, he served three terms as a Nassau County commissioner and was also elected as chairman by his fellow commissioners. He was a highly ethical, honest, kind, intelligent, generous, handsome, loving, outgoing (never met a stranger!), competitive, talented, loyal, adventurous, and funny man's man. He loved his family immensely and his favorite thing to do was to spend time with them. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.

He was preceded in death by his parents, John B. and Wynelle Davis Higginbotham; his brother, Johnny; stepfather, Carl Wright; and son-in-law, Neil Phelps.

He leaves behind his wife, Carol L. Decker-Higginbotham of Amelia Island, Fla.; his three beloved children, son Barry (Stacey) Higginbotham of  Yulee, Fla., daughter Laran Phelps of Yulee, and daughter Erin (C. J.) Eiras of Jacksonville, Fla.; and his sister, Vivian Armstrong, and brother, Richard (Cathy) Higginbotham, both of Hilliard. Jim also leaves behind his seven beloved grandchildren, Baleigh and Brennan Higginbotham, Ella and Amelia Phelps, and Severiano, Bianca, and Maximus Eiras; and two stepsons, Steve and Mark Decker, along with their families. In addition, he leaves behind many nieces, nephews, close cousins, and lifelong friends, as well as the mother of his three children, Jan R. Spottswood of Jacksonville.

A memorial service to celebrate Jim’s life and legacy will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 16, 2019 at First Baptist Church at 1600 S. Eighth St. in Fernandina Beach.

Please share your memories and condolences at www.oxleyheard.com.

If so desired, donations may be made in Jim’s memory to Community Hospice of Northeast Florida, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.

Oxley-Heard Funeral Directors


Mailing Address:
PO Box 16766
Fernandina Beach, FL 32035

Physical Address:
511 Ash Street

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

Phone: (904) 261-3696
Fax: (904) 261-3698