Friends and business associates mourn Stuart M. Irby - - Jackson, MS

Friends and business associates mourn Stuart M. Irby

Stuart Irby Stuart Irby
Jim Dollarhide Jim Dollarhide
Irby's Car after 2009 Accident Irby's Car after 2009 Accident
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Those who knew Stuart Irby paid their condolences Wednesday at his home on Stuart Place in the Eastover subdivision.

The Irby Company that his family founded issued a statement, joining others mourning the loss of the prominent businessman.

Irby's home is where his 24-hour caretaker, who lived on the premises, found Irby shortly after 8:00 p.m. Tuesday.

"He was found in his residence lying on the floor," said Jackson police spokeswoman Colendula Green. "It's an apparent suicide."

Police say Irby's caretaker spoke to him last around 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, and there was no indication of anything wrong. Four hours later he made a shocking discovery.

"It is an apparent suicide by ligature hanging," said Hinds County coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart. "He was found in the stairwell of his home. No autopsy is being ordered."

Longtime friends like Jackson filmmaker Jim Dollarhide posted memories of Stuart Irby on Facebook.

"Stuart was one of the most generous people you would ever meet," Dollarhide told WLBT News. "That doesn't come out in the news reports that focus on the tragedy, the car wreck and Karen."

Irby gave Dollarhide his first movie camera and helped launch his filmmaking career. They had known each other since 1973. Dollarhide said he was heartbroken.

Dollarhide wrote a personal tribute about his longtime friend, but added Stuart Irby was mentally challenged and troubled by the fiery crash in 2009 that claimed the lives of two doctors.

"He just wasn't quite all there (after the accident)," Dollarhide said. "We were going to lunch one day and he said to me -- it was almost like he was going to cry, but he didn't -- he said, 'Jim, it's like I'm in orbit and I can't get back to Earth.""

Irby, a longtime Jackson businessman, had been known for his philanthropic work.

His life took a turn February 2009 when he was involved in the fiery, head-on collision on Old Canton Road in Jackson. Testimony indicated he and his then-wife Karen, who was driving, had been drinking and were fighting inside the vehicle.

Many blamed Stuart Irby.

Due to memory loss, he never publicly addressed the matter, but he did on Facebook on December 7, writing this: "I never hit Karen but once when I slapped her back, after she slapped me first. She used police to abuse me twice with false accusations."

Last week Karen Irby was granted conditional clemency by former Governor Haley Barbour. She remains under house arrest in Madison.

Friends privately say the reason Irby took his life remains a mystery. There was no suicide note left behind.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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