Jan. 3, 2005 – James A. Bridgeman, a longtime St. Thomas resident and
businessman, died Dec. 25 at his home on Hypoluxo Island in Lantana, Fla. He was 73.
A memorial Mass is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Jan. 10 at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral on St. Thomas. His widow, Marie Therese, will be present, friend of the family John Foster said.
He is survived by his son James, who lives in Florida; brother, Jack Bridgeman; sister, Jane Blockhus; and a daughter-in-law, Michaela Bridgeman, all residents of the mainland. His daughter, Marie Claire, died in 1978.
Bridgeman moved to St. Thomas in 1958. "He was an all-round guy, with lots of talent," Foster said. "He was a real pioneer in the late '50s and early '60s and was in every part of development of St. Thomas."
On the business side, For more than 20 years he and his wife owned Sebastian's, one of St. Thomas' most popular Waterfront restaurants. In those days Sebastian's provided meals and music – music for dancing, Foster recalled.
Music was important in Bridgeman's life. He was the Caribbean representative for Allen Organ, the world's largest builder of church organs. He was intrigued with the electronic development of the organ, producing sounds of instruments, of the harp, of the whole orchestra, and a number of churches on the island have these instruments, notably the Frederick Lutheran Church. Another Montessori parent remembers birthday parties at the family home for his children, where Bridgeman played for the guests the pipe organ in his home. It featured pipes on every wall to the vaulted ceiling in the large gathering room. Foster recalls evening concerts at the Bridgeman home, and said he provided St. Thomas with "a different Carnival sound." Bridgeman was also organist at St. Thomas Reformed Church.
An early member of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and of Rotary Club of St. Thomas, he owned Caribbean Wholesale Foods on St. Thomas and St. Croix. He owned property on Raadets Gade, was a landlord, and brought Burger King in.
A weekend boater in his Owens powerboat, he was a founding member of the St. Thomas Yacht Club and also belonged to the St. Thomas Men's Garden Club.
Active in school affairs as well, he served on the Antilles School board of trustees and was its president and president emeritus for more than 10 years. He was also a member of the Montessori School board of trustees.
A native of Duluth, Minn., he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Minnesota and received his master's degree in business administration from Thunderbird School of International Management. A U.S. Army veteran, he served in the Korean War. He began his career at General Electric in New York before moving to St. Thomas.
Editor's note: Some material for this obituary was provided by Ed Crouch.