Life Story / Obituary
If anyone was in need of a smile, Richard E. Wright, Sr., was the man for the job. Well-liked and a friend to everyone, he was known for his wit and sometimes goofy sense of humor. Richard cherished his wife and kids and was proud to be able to use his mechanical knowledge and talent to provide for his family as well as offering a helping hand to fix things when needed.
The Great Depression of the 1930s was a time of uncertainty and struggle, but in the midst of it people learned how to work together and make do with what they had. Despite the dire situations families sometimes faced, there were also moments of hope and joy that shone forth. One such moment was the arrival of Arthur and Dorothy (Stratten) Wright’s first child. They were delighted to welcome their baby boy Richard on August 17, 1934, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Arthur owned a gas station down at the corner of Mill and Lake Street. Dorothy managed the home and invested much of her time into raising Richard and his little sister Patricia. As a boy, Richard developed a strong work ethic and learned a lot about cars while helping his dad at the gas station. It was a great place for a boy to spend his free time.
Just before Christmas of his seventh year, Richard learned of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. All through elementary school, he heard about war and loss, worry and pain. Even though he was too young to understand all of it, he still knew that there was certainly a reason to celebrate when it was finally announced that the war was over in 1945.
It was only be a few short years before the United States would once again experienced war. During Richard’s last couple of years of high school, America was involved in the Korean Conflict and he again listened for news of those who had gone overseas to fight. Richard played the trumpet in high school band. He graduated from Kalamazoo Central with the class of 1952. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army.
After leaving the service, Richard opened his own gas station near Miller and Sprinkle. Things took a turn he hadn’t expected when a fellow brought in a car for repair. That man worked for General Motors and was so impressed by Richard’s work that he offered him a job, telling him that all he had to do was apply and the job would be his.The man was true to his word and Richard took the job. He worked as a tool and die maker for over 34 years.
While he was in the Army, Richard had met and married a woman with whom he had four children, Rick, Jr., Dan, Margie, and Bill. His kids were Richard’s pride and joy. Richard divorced and was on his own for about ten years until one fortunate day he met a lady who lived two doors down from him named Lucille Collard. He and Lucy went out to dinner and had a lovely time together. They went for a little shopping excursion and he bought her a necklace that she continued to wear for the rest of her years with Richard. The two exchanged wedding vows on October 31, 1986.
Lucy had children of her own, and Richard was happy to blend his family with Rob, Tammi, Susan, Pamela, Michael, Diana, and Mary. The bustling house kept Richard and Lucy hard at work, and they wouldn’t have traded a minute of it. As the kids grew, there was more time for hobbies. Richard kept a horse and ran a hobby farm on ten acres in nearby Fulton. He took his horse to Kal-Val Saddle Club and to area county fairs. On the rare occasion that he had free time, he enjoyed watching westerns.
Richard never lost his fascination with cars, tracking how many miles he drove, touring the backroads while singing along with his favorite classic country tunes, and waxing his GM vehicles regularly. He always looked forward to the annual Vicksburg Old Car Festival. His favorite place to be, though, was wherever Lucy went. They visited Shipshewana, Indiana, several times a year, enjoying the leisurely drive and picturesque scenery. They didn’t have to go anywhere, though, since even solitaire was a pleasant pastime if Lucy was nearby. Just being together was enough.
Throughout the years, Richard and Lucy were blessed with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. He loved making them laugh and adored each one. His family was his oasis and he was proud of the people they were becoming. He leaves them with fond memories and the knowledge that he always wanted the best for them.
Richard died on Saturday, August 27, 2016, at the age of 82. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Lucille; children: Dan Wright of Indiana; Margie Brown of Indiana; Bill Wright of Indiana; Rob Lustisk, Jr. of Vicksburg; Tammi Lustisk of Kalamazoo; Susan (Justin) Shaw of Florida; Pamela Lustisk of Vicksburg; Diana (Curtis) Shoup of Climax; and Mary (Jon) Glaes of Vicksburg; his sister, Pat (Bob) Rustenholtz of Portage; and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by two sons, Rick Wright, Jr. and Michael Wright.
The family will receive friends Wednesday, August 31, 2016, from 4pm-7pm at Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main, Vicksburg (269-649-1697). There will be a graveside service on Thursday, September 1, 2016, at 11am at Fort Custer National Cemetery. Please visit Richard’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you may share a favorite memory or photo and sign his online guest register. Memorial contributions may be made to Kairos Dwelling.