Life Story / Obituary
Born in a time of plenty and raised during a time of tremendous challenge and much change, Earl Edwin Wright was a man of deep devotion, strong will, and determination. With unwavering honesty and a generous heart, Earl lived his faith centered life in service to his family whom he treasured deeply. A proud husband, father, and grandfather Earl met life’s challenges head on and embraced his good fortune with much appreciation. Though he will be sadly missed, Earl’s legacy will continue to live on in the hearts and lives of those he loved most.
1928 continued to ride the decade’s roaring wave of peace, prosperity, and hope. The nation celebrated the recent inventions of Penicillin, the iron lung, bubble gum, and the Yo-Yo, as well as Charles Lindbergh’s Congressional Medal of Honor and Amelia Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. As the wave of sweeping social and economic growth rapidly increased nowhere was their more hope for the future than in Lawrence, MI where on December 26th Lloyd and Lyda (Shepard) Wright welcomed their son Earl into their hearts and home.
The fifth of Lloyd and Lyda’s seven children, Earl, grew up in a busy home that was firmly centered on the values of family and hard work. As sharecroppers, the family knew the costs and rewards of back breaking work and that life’s circumstances could be powerfully changed by a strong wind, prolonged drought, torrential rain, an honest deal, or a crooked landowner. In the face of the challenges of an uncertain future, Earl learned the importance of never taking good fortune for granted in addition to a deep sense of fortitude that served him well over his life.
Earl enjoyed playing basketball and baseball during his high school years and proudly graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 1946. With the end of WWII, there were major shortages in jobs and housing for those returning from war as well as continued shortages of food and materials. As a way of providing for himself, and building a firm foundation for his future, Earl enlisted in the United States Army.
While hunting near Escanaba in 1952 Earl met the love of his life, Carol McMartin. Shortly after they met, Carol moved to Kalamazoo and found a job at the old Hart’s Grocery Store on South Westnedge. The happy couple continued to court and soon found themselves deeply in love. On July 31, 1954, they committed themselves in marriage in a wedding celebration held at the Methodist Church in Escanaba. Not long after their nuptials, Earl and Carol welcomed the first of their five children, Cheryl. Patty, Greg, Tim, and Ron followed in quick succession, and the Wright family buzzed with activity.
While Carol lovingly managed their busy home, Earl provided for his family by working for over 30 years with the Upjohn Company. Earl loved to work with his hands and inherited his father’s woodworking skills. His joy with woodworking came from helping other's. He enjoyed time working on projects with other family members and he even completely remodeled both homes he owned. Whether fishing, hunting, or gardening, Earl’s appreciation and respect for nature were always evident. He and Carol especially enjoyed sharing time with their family on their property in White Cloud where they snowmobiled, canoed, and held large family gatherings. The family explored and practiced their faith through their membership at the Oakwood Bible Church in the good company of their church community.
Without a doubt, Earl’s greatest joy came in sharing time with his eight grandchildren. Earl felt honored and blessed to be a grandfather to Logan, John, Jason, Suzanne, Jordan, Chase, Thomas, and Anila. He loved to attend their sporting events, and he unfailingly provided his support in each of their endeavors. Welcoming each of his ten great-grandchildren proved a delight beyond words for Earl. For in each of their eyes he could so clearly see the glimmers of his life’s legacy and his hopes for the future.
In 2010 Earl faced the challenge of learning to live without his cherished wife. Though Carol’s death proved one of Earl’s greatest challenges, with the generous help of his family and friends he chose to embrace the rest of his life with his customary strong will and resolve.
Earl’s legacy of faith in others, love of the outdoors, hard work, and deep generosity will long live in the hearts of those who knew him best. Whether enjoying the artistry of Earl’s wooden masterpieces, paddling a canoe, cheering on the Detroit Tigers or MSU Spartans, watching Fox News, or enjoying one another’s company, Earl’s family will find comfort in their favorite memories of a man who lived and loved so well.
Earl E. Wright, of Kalamazoo, passed away on Friday, May 5, 2017, at the age of 88. He is survived by his four children: Cheryl Wright, of Kalamazoo; Patty Wright-Flessner, of South Haven; Tim Wright, of FL; and Ron (Carol) Wright, of Kalamazoo; eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Carol; son: Greg Wright and his siblings.
A funeral service will be held on Monday at 11 AM at the Oakwood Bible Church, 4100 Oakland Drive. A visitation will be held starting at 10:30 until the time of the service at the church. Burial at Mount Ever-Rest Memorial Park.
Please visit Earl’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read his life story, sign the guestbook, share a photo and/or memory. Those who wish may make contributions to the Oakwood Bible Church.
The family is being assisted by the Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage, MI (269-344-5600).