Gord Wright

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The Friends of Bark Lake: Ontario Camp Leadership Centre, Irondale, Ontario, Canada



Flagcanadamini.gif Original Content Alert
The following article was researched and written by
Alec Wright, Richard Devenney
and David Spencer.


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Gordon Alexander Wright
Janury 18, 1911 - November 15, 2007



Who was Gord Wright ?

Gord Wright was a Canadian educator, athlete, government administrator, naval officer, camper, author and leader of youth.

A farm boy from South-Western Ontario, Gord Wright was a competitive athlete who at Ontario Agricultural College set a 17 year high jump record as first Canadian using the Western Roll. He won the University of Toronto "Bronze T" for being a member of 3 championship teams in different sports: football, gymnastics and wrestling.

He was Canadian Champion, Wrestling (Greco- Roman) and was denied his berth on the 1936 Berlin Olympics Canadian Team as he taught Schumacher high school Chemistry, Physics and part- time Physical Education. The last was considered earning his income from his sport, thus contrary to the amateur definition. He pioneered community evening classes in high schools in Ontario, where immigrant miners families learnt English in exchange for teaching European crafts and trades in the northern Ontario gold-mining town of Schumacher.

Gord married Ruth L. Baker, one daughter of his biology professor, Albert "Jack" Wesley Baker of Guelph. Prof. Baker taught at OAC and in the medical faculty at University of Toronto, along with Dr. Sir Frederick G. Banting, co-discoverer of insulin. Banting, a farm boy from Alliston, Ontario, was a lifelong inspiration to Gord Wright.

Gord and Ruth successfully raised a daughter and two sons.

Volunteer Work
He volunteered for the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve, "the Wavy Navy", where he served in many trans-Atlantic crossings in corvettes on convoy duty as an Encryption Officer. He later was posted to HMCS Niobe in Greenoch, Scotland, as a Lieutenant Education Officer where he taught unarmed combat and raised the literacy of enlisted men.

Ontario Government
After World War II, Gord served with the Department of Veterans Affairs demobilising troops and running training programmes to re- introduce them successfully into a changed society. In 1947 Gord was appointed to the Ontario Government as Director of Physical and Health Education, which post he held until resigning in 1962 to accept the new national position of Director of Fitness and Amateur Sport in Ottawa under Diefenbaker's Conservative government. After a change to the Liberals, under a new Minister, Judy LaMarsh, Gord resigned and returned to teaching high school.

In 1968, Gord was appointed as Chairman of the Ontario Teachers' Federation Committee on outdoor education. J.R. McCarthy, Deputy Minister of Education sent Gord this letter requesting a meeting with his committee and the Curriculum Section for the Ontario Department of Education.

The Ministry of Education urged him to apply to a school in farming country north of Toronto whose Vice-Principal had just died: Banting Memorial High School in Alliston, birthplace of Sir Frederick Banting. Gord took it, moved the family to Alliston and he and Ruth became major contributors to the area, a wealthy grouping of tobacco, potato and sod farms, with many prize-winning cattle herds.


Please also read "Gordon Alexander Wright : A Bark Lake Legacy" written by Richard Devenney

Gord wright-portrait.jpg
Gord Wright
He gave many presentations and lectures to education conferences

Significance of Gord Wright

Gord Wright was Chair of the Ontario Teachers' Federation Outdoor Education Committee. This group considered the aims and objectives of outdoor education in Ontario and planned a conference on outdoor education for teachers. In 1956, while Gord was working at the Physical Education and Camping Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Education, he hired Dorothy Walter. Dorothy applied her organizational expertise to the details of the Centre. In 1972, Dorothy began her career at the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake. This Centre was established to train potential leaders in outdoor recreation, leisure, environments and tourism.


Awards
Gord Wright won many local and international awards, the latest being Ontario's Senior Citizen of the Year, 2006, and being inducted into the South Simcoe County Museum's Wall of Fame, 2006. He has been a popular writer of local articles and a regular supporter of the University of Guelph, where he and Ruth contributed the Baker- Wright Walk through the research Arboretum.

His Class of OAC '33 set a record of meeting annually for 70 years and set a precedent with the Year '33 Bursary to worthy students, many of whom gratefully continued their studies and went on to major contributions to agriculture and science.

Gord and class-mate, Bert "Honey" Martin, led their class into researching and sponsoring several well-received books on leading professors at OAC/University of Guelph.

Founder
Gord helped found the Alliston Potato Festival and the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee. The thrust of the latter was to establish a forum for educating the public and diabetics about the disease and its management, and to establish a camp for juvenile diabetics for them to learn and help one another.

Gord helped found several professional and sports organizations and served on many executives, including the Presidency of Canadian Association of Physical and Health Education and Recreation. He strongly believed in the value of camps to broaden and bond youth while teaching them skills, knowledge and leadership, and he established the Ontario Athletic Leadership Camp at Lake Couchiching and the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake. Each has graduated some 50,000 high school boys and girls many of whom proceeded to major contributions in many fields around the world. Gord at age 90 wrote "Leadership - Beyond the Playing Field" with journalist, Katherine Mooij of Beeton,. The book being a critically acclaimed guide to teaching youth to be leaders using the medium of athletics. Published by YorkWright Planning Associates Ltd., it is also available through C.A.P.H.E.R.D., the non-profit professional body.


Please also read "Gordon Alexander Wright : A Bark Lake Legacy" written by Richard Devenney.



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Gord Wright with his Ontario Achievement Award
Bill Davis (William G. Davis),Ontario Minister of Education presented
Gord with this award for his distinguished contributions to
fitness and amateur sport on May 5, 1964

Background of Gord Wright

Gord Wright was born (Gordon Alexander Wright) in Seaforth,Perth County, Ontario on January 18, 1911. He was the son of Robert James Wright and Annie Wright (nee Stewart). Annie's family owned a large home in Logan Township north of Mitchelle, Ontario. They provided room and board for teachers from the school located across the road. One of the teachers was Ralph Gordon, who,under the pen name Ralph Connor, had become famous for his novel "Glengarry School Days" which was also made into a film in 1923. Annie insisted that the baby be named after the author Ralph Gordon. His second name was chosen in honour of hr uncle, Alex Stewart.

Raised on the farm, Gord Wright's childhood outdoor experiences were to impact him for a lifetime. By age two, he was in the garden helping to plant seeds. Watching them germinate and grow, a natural curiosity took root in the child's heart and mind. Milking cows, harvesting and binding grain became valuable lessons, not just in agriculture, but also in life.

Watching and later participating in barn raisings taught Gord the value of teamwork.

He attended S.S. #7 Hibbert Rural School in 1916 and Seaforth Collegiate for high school in 1924. He became the Track and Field Champion in 1928. In 1929, he attended the Ontario Agricultural College (now University of Guelph) where he broke the College high-jump record. In 1932, he attended College in St. Louis, Missouri on the money he won from the Danforth Fellowship. He graduated with a BSA (Bachelor of Science and Arts) and joined the chemistry staff as a lab assistant in 1933. In 1932, Gord attended the Ontario College of Education in Toronto. In 1935, he was hired as a teacher and coach at Schumacher High School. In 1936, he toured Europe and attended the Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. In 1937, he was appointed the Vice-principal of Schumacher High School.

In 1939, Gord married Ruth Baker. He became the Inspector and Assistant Director, P.E. Branch for the Ontario Department of Education. In 1947, Gord became the Director for the P.E. Branch for the Ontario Department of Education.

In 1948 he developed the leadership camps at the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake and the Ontario Athletic Leadership Camp at Lake Couchiching.

In 1959 he became the President of CAHPER.

In 1962, Gord was appointed the first National Director of Fitness and Amateur Sport for Canada.

He was co-founder of the Alliston Potato Festival and the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee.

Mr. Wright was also a driving force behind the construction of the athletic fields on Albert Street behind Banting Memorial High School. It was later named the G.A. Wright Athletic Fields in his honour.

He was a strong advocate of youth and sport, and was an accomplished athlete himself, setting several track and field records while in university.

Mr. Wright won many local and international awards, the latest being Ontario’s Senior Achievement and an induction into the Museum on the Boyne’s Wall of Fame in 2006.

Previously Mr. Wright won the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, Rotary’s Paul Harris Fellow, Lion’s Citizen of the Year, South Simcoe Achievement, and many other awards.

Please also read "Gordon Alexander Wright : A Bark Lake Legacy" written by Richard Devenney.

Books and Journal Articles About Gord Wright

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Leadership:Beyond the Playing Field
Gord Wright's autobiography
(Read an excerpt in PDF format)


Books

  • Mooij, Kathryn L.. Leadership:Beyond the Playing Field. Toronto: YorkWight Planning Associates Ltd., 2001.


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Journal of the CAHPER
Canadian Association for
Health, Physical Education and Recreation
Vol.28 June-July, 1962 No. 5
(Read an excerpt in PDF format)


Journals

  • Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. President's Page Vol.28 June-July, 1962 No. 5. Toronto. 1962

Obituary for Gord Wright

WRIGHT, Gordon Alexander: Passed away peacefully at Simcoe Manor on November 15, 2007, with his wife of 68 years, Ruth, by his side, and surrounded by his loving family. A Memorial Service to celebrate Gord's life and times will be held at the Royal Canadian Legion in Alliston, Ontario, on January 19, 2008 from 2-5 p.m. Also, to share your special memory of Gord, please share your comments here.




Memorial Service for Gord Wright

A Memorial Service for Gord Wright was held on Saturday January 19, 2007 at the Alliston Legion in at the Alliston, Ontario.

Royal Canadian Legion
Branch 171
111 Dufferin Street South,
Alliston, Ontario



Donations in Memory of Gord Wright

Donations may be made in Gord Wright’s honour to the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation.

Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation
2 John Avenue,
Alliston, ON, L9R 1J8,


e-mail

Remembering Gord Wright

Please post your memory or tribute to Gord Wright here.



Town of New Tecumseth Flies Their Flags at Half Mast

On Friday November 16, 2007, Mayor Mike MacEachern of the Town of New Tecumseth (Alliston, Beeton, Tottenham and Tecumseth Township) flew their flags at half mast as a tribute to Gord Wright.



The Alliston Herald Publishes a Tribute

Former Banting Memorial High School principal and long-time educator Gordon (Gord) A. Wright died Thursday November 15, 2007. He was 96. His son, Alec Wright contacted The Herald at press time and said his father passed just after he had read him a story from the paper about the Town of New Tecumseth ratifying the bylaw to protect the Sir Frederick Banting homestead.
“I said congratulations Dad, you and mom won,” said Wright, “and then when I read the next sentence, he stopped breathing.”
Mr. Wright and his wife, Ruth, spearheaded the Banting Educational Committee which hosts the annual Banting Educational Day, held just two weeks ago.
Up until a couple of years ago Mr. Wright also took part in the Diabetes Walk from Banting Memorial High School to the Banting homestead about two kilometres away on Sir Frederick Banting Road (the 3rd Line of Essa).
A cause near and dear to his heart, he was a champion for saving the homestead as well as for local athletics programs, particularly in schools. In 1962 he became the first National Director of Amateur Sport.
Healthy well into his 90s, Mr. Wright went skiing for his 80th birthday and wanted to go for his 90th, but family didn’t think that was such a good idea.
Alliston’s multi-field complex, the G.A. Wright Athletic Fields off Albert Street was named in his honour.
He was principal of Banting Memorial High School from 1969 to 1974.
- The Alliston Herald



New Tecumseth Free Press Online Publishes a Tribute

Gordon Alexander Wright lived long enough to realize one of his wishes - the preservation of the Banting homestead which on Monday night was officially designated a cultural heritage site.
Mr. Wright died Thursday afternoon while listening to his son Alec, himself active in the Banting homestead issue. read him the news story from Monday night's decision. He was 96.
Gord was a long-time educator and served as principal at Banting Memorial High School from 1969 to 1974.
- Tony Veltri, Editor for the New Tecumseth Free Press Online



The Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake Appreciates Gord

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Gord Wright and David Spencer
Gord Wright signs and gives a copy of his book to David Spencer
after recording an interview about the history of Bark Lake


  • It was an honour and a pleasure to meet Gord Wright in Beeton on February 10, 2007. Alec Wright, Gord's son took me to meet Gord and to interview him for an audio recording I am working on about the history of the Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake. During my interview with Gord, I discovered a man of passion for outdoor education and sport, a commitment to young people and an incredible track record of education leadership federally, provincially an locally.

    Gord was the inspiration for me to organize a reunion of Bark Lake Alumni May 18 to 21, 2007. Alec Wright and Richard Devenney brought Gord to Bark Lake for Saturday May 19. Gord was able to join us outside in the fall colours and participate in a newspaper interview recording some of the history and memories of Bark Lake.

    I appreciate all that Gord Wright did to acquire and set up Bark Lake, hire great leaders such as Hart Devenney, Kirk Wipper and Dorothy Walter and Gord's influence on and promotion of outdoor education during his time with the Ontario Department of Education and the Ontario Teachers' Federation.
    Gord Wright has left an incredible legacy and impacted many of Canada's leaders. I am blessed to have known him.
    - David Spencer, Project Leader for The Friends of Bark Lake November 18, 2007

Deserving award winners prove New Tecumseth 'really excels'

To the Editor of The New Tecumseth Free Press Online

I was delighted to see in the Free Press those excellent photographs of two of New Tecumseth's finest, Marjorie Colbourne and Gordon Wright, on the recent occasion of their receipt of Ontario Senior Achievement Awards.

New Tecumseth really excels when its citizens receive two of the only 22 awards given for all of Ontario.

I am especially pleased, as chairman of the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee, to report that this committee was co-founded by Gord Wright some 11 years ago. Both Gord and his wife, Ruth, have contributed untiringly to the work of this group ever since.

The idea for the Committee originated back in 1991 when Gord travelled to Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland, to stay at the Banting Motel and visit the Banting Interpretation Centre, located near where Sir Frederick Grant Banting died in service of his county 65 years ago. When Gord returned to Alliston, he was full of enthusiasm and hell bent on putting the Banting Homestead into the centre of attention. If little Musgrave Harbour, way out in Newfoundland, could remember Canadian hero Sir Frederick Banting so well, shouldn't Alliston, his birthplace, be doing more?

In his college days at OAC (Ontario Agricultural College now University of Guelph), Gord had met a member of the Banting family who came from Alliston. His college buddy, Angus, was a diabetic. Angus brought Gord home on weekends to his father's farm, which was on the Scotch line. This was the Nelson Banting farm. Nelson was Fred Banting's oldest brother. Soon Gord and Angus were walking through the fields at Sir Frederick Banting's birthplace, the Banting Homestead. As was often the case, Gord would join the Banting family for seasonal dinners.

Later, Gord Wright founded and operated two of Canada's most successful youth camps: Ontario Athletic Leadership Camp at Lake Couchiching and Ontario Camp Leadership Centre at Bark Lake, near Haliburton, where more than 100,000 youth have learned leadership skills and gone on to enrich Canadian society.

In an ironic twist, Gord eventually took a job at the Banting Memorial High School. In short order he became principal. Today, men and women with grown families of their own, approach Gord on the street and recall appreciatively their previous association with Gord at Banting Memorial.

In addition to his school duties, over the years, Gord worked with Edward and Louise Banting, translating and copying letters received at the Banting Homestead from all parts of the world in many foreign languages, and helped to respond to them.

So on his return from Newfoundland it was automatic for Gord, his dear wife Ruth. along with Shirley Gibson, to participate in the founding of the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee to build awareness of juvenile diabetes, reduce its incidence, and centre these educational activities around the original homestead of this world-class scientist

Gord then went on to help set up Sir Frederick Banting Day. The first event in 1995 was held right on the Banting Homestead in the historic octagonal driving shed. (Sadly, the OHS has allowed this building to fall apart). Sir Frederick Banting Day has become an annual event and this year will be celebrated at the Nottawasaga Inn on November 18. The theme for Banting Day 2006 is "Where it all started."

Gord and his wife, Ruth, have been a driving force on the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee since its inception. They laud the annual Banting Walk/Run for Diabetes between Banting Memorial and the Banting Homestead. Last year it raised $37,000 for Diabetes research. This year the event will take place on June 1.

Gord's Ontario Senior Achievement Award is just one of many. He recently joined the South Simcoe Hall of Fame. As the oldest Alliston Royal Canadian Legion member he took the salute at the 60th Anniversary VE March Past in 2004. Gord received an Honourary Degree from University of Guelph in 2002, and received Rotary's Citizen of the Year award in 2000. He was awarded the Queen's Jubilee medal for community service in 1994.

At the age of 90, Gord, assisted by local journalist, Kate Mooji, authored a book on leadership of youth titled: "Leadership: Beyond the Playing Field." Gord and Ruth still are active in organizing events for fellow residents of Simcoe Manor retirement home.

Gord and Ruth have been a driving force and an inspiration to the members of the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee. We continue his efforts to bring greater recognition to Alliston for Fred's accomplishments. We share Gord's dream of a juvenile diabetic camp on the very grounds of Sir Frederick Banting's birthplace, and to this end have founded the Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation. Thank you Gord Wright for your leadership and encouragement. You well deserve the Ontario Senior Achievement Award. Congratulations.

Dr. Peter M. Banting, Professor Emeritus
Chairman,
Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee
Ancaster, Ontario

Source: New Tecumseth Free Press Online First Posted April 30, 1999 http://www.madhunt.com/letterpbantingmarch162006.html



Simcoe County District School Board Pays Tribute

Remembering Gord Wright

Simcoe County District School Board Vice-Chairperson Robert North noted with sadness that educator and community supporter Gord Wright recently passed away. The former Principal of Banting Memorial High School (from 1969 to 1974) was a leader in the education system and wider community. Alliston’s multi-field complex, the G.A. Wright Athletic Fields, was named in his honour. Vice-Chairperson North expressed condolences to the Wright family. Trustee Nancy Halbert also noted specific achievements of the community leader.

Source: http://www.scdsb.on.ca/news/news.cfm?ID=5105



Gord Wright - Passionate educator made a mark

Courtesy of The Alliston Herald

Gordon Alexander Wright was a man who fought for what he believed, followed through on his dreams, and helped others follow through on theirs.

He lived long enough to realize one of the latest dreams — the preservation of the Banting homestead. A municipal bylaw was passed Nov. 12 protecting the property. Mr. Wright died Thursday afternoon, just after his son Alec read him the news story from that decision. He was 96.

As a long-time educator, athlete, government administrator, naval officer, camper, author and leader of youth, it is impossible to pinpoint how many lives Mr. Wright influenced. As a champion of athletics, both on and off the field, Mr. Wright helped to bring physical and outdoor education to high schools in Alliston and indeed across the province.


Banting Memorial High School

As the Banting Memorial High School principal from 1969 to 1974, Mr. Wright worked to bring the best quality of programs and services to rural students, and invigorate the staff and students with a sense of excitement.

“He certainly was a real dreamer, and most of his dreams came true,” said former New Tecumseth mayor Larry Keogh. “He gave me the inspiration to work hard, and when you had a plan that you thought was feasible, to push forward and implement it.”

Keogh was a teacher when Mr. Wright was principal, and later became a principal of the school himself.

As an administrator who encouraged ambition in his staff, Mr. Wright wasn’t afraid to provide the moral and financial support for new initiatives teachers brought forward. Dale Grummett, a long-time math and computer science teacher at Banting, and coach of the badminton team, said Mr. Wright gave endless support to all programs, including the new computer science classes and athletics.

Grummett had approached Mr. Wright with the idea of purchasing the school’s first computer. Originally, the only computer for the area was to be stationed in Barrie, and students would have to send their programs away to be tested. The long turnaround time would discourage students from making any real gains in the new computer field, Grummett contended. Mr. Wright agreed, and Banting Memorial received its first computer.

For Grummett, this enthusiasm from the administration was something that echoed down through the staff and students.

“It wouldn’t matter what department it was, if they had some new program, some new innovative idea, he was quite open to those,” said Grummett. “From an attitude point of view, it gave you a real high. That’s really positive, that’s really supportive. As a teacher you are actually quite excited that you are going to get something new into the school system.”

At one point during Mr. Wright’s time at Banting, the Latin program was in jeopardy, as many schools across the province cancelled the course because it was increasingly viewed as a “dead language.” To generate excitement and keep Latin alive for Banting students, Mr. Wright knew something special was in order. He arrived at school one day in a full Roman toga, and proceeded to demonstrate Roman-style wrestling for the students. The stunt worked, and Banting Memorial still has one of the strongest Latin programs in the province.

Mr. Wright also saw the need for a new and expanded athletics field for Banting Memorial, and in 1971 pushed for the purchase and construction of fields on the land south of Albert Street.

In 1984, 10 years after Mr. Wright’s retirement, the field was named the G.A. Wright Athletic Field in his honour.

While Mr. Wright gave much to the students at Banting Memorial, and the community itself, he didn’t come to Alliston until halfway through his life.


Perth County

Mr. Wright was the first child of Robert James and Annie Wright, born Jan. 18, 1911, in Perth County, Ontario. As a child, Mr. Wright was active on the farm, and the daily chores helped to instill a good work ethic. The lessons of hard work getting the most out of things became an underlying philosophy for his life. The farm, apple orchards and fish-filled streams became the playground for a young Mr. Wright, and cemented a life-long love of physical activity and the outdoors.

In 1929, Mr. Wright went to study at the Ontario Agricultural College at the University of Guelph, where his studies focused on agriculture sciences. Along with his schoolwork, Mr. Wright’s college experience was rounded out with some excitement and athletics. His irrepressible sense of humour found itself expressed through a few college pranks, some of which made the local newspapers. His involvement with varsity athletics quickly grew into a love that would have a profound impact on his life and others.

During his college years, Mr. Wright was an avid track and field athlete, and set a high jump record that would last 17 years. He was involved with the varsity football team, and was also on the school athletic society. While at college, he also met another important person in his life - his wife. Ruth Baker was the daughter of one of his professors, and the couple married in 1939.

Mr. Wright started a master’s degree in 1933, but later switched to pursue a teacher’s degree in Toronto. He won the University of Toronto “Bronze T” for being a member of three championship teams in different sports - football, gymnastics and wrestling.


Gord's First Teaching Job

His first teaching job was in the northern community of Schumacher, Ontario, at a brand new high school, with modern facilities, where he taught physics, chemistry, and phys-ed. He instituted community evening classes in high schools, where immigrant families could learn English in exchange for teaching European crafts and trades.

While teaching, Mr. Wright continued his pursuit of athletics, and qualified for the Canadian wrestling team for the 1936 Olympics. He was barred from the team though, after the Canadian Olympic Committee deemed him ineligible because it said his job as a high school phys-ed teacher made him a professional athlete. Undeterred, Mr. Wright and a friend made the trip to Europe themselves that year, and attended the Olympics in Berlin as a spectator.

After serving the Royal Canadian Navy overseas during the Second World War, Mr. Wright returned to Canada to a position at the Department of Veterans Affairs, helping to de-mobilize troops.


Ontario Government Appointment

In 1947, Mr. Wright was appointed to as Director of Physical and Health Education for the Ontario government. During his time in the provincial position, Mr. Wright took what life had already taught him, and used it to teach others. He was integral in the formation of youth leadership camps at Bark Lake and Lake Couchiching, which provided high school students the opportunity to learn social and leadership skills in an outdoor setting.

Mr. Wright resigned from the post in 1962, to accept a new position of Director of Fitness and Amateur Sport in Ottawa under Diefenbaker’s Conservative government. He resigned shortly afterwards, with the defeat of the Conservative government by the Pearson Liberals.

After Mr. Wright’s return from Ottawa, encouraged by the Ministry of Education, Mr. Wright applied for a vice-principal’s job at Banting Memorial. He moved to the area and held that job until 1969, when he became principal.


Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee

While Mr. Wright retired in 1974, it by no means signaled him slowing down. As a founder of the Sir Frederick Banting Educational Committee, he took an avid interest in Banting and his work, and turned it into a crusade to educate people about diabetes and Banting’s legacy. In 1991, in his 80th year, Mr. Wright traveled to Musgrave Harbour, Nfld, the site of the plane crash that killed Banting, to continue his research. On his 80th birthday, Mr. Wright went downhill skiing. He wanted to do the same on his 90th, but his family thought it might not be safe.

One particular family story that demonstrates the liveliness Mr. Wright exuded in his senior years comes from his son, Alec Wright. When Mr. Wright was in his mid-80s, one of Alec’s sons had just returned from a rugby tour in England. The grandson and grandfather were standing beside each other on the driveway, when the younger began nudging the elder and egging him on.

“In an absolute blur, that you could not make out any movement at all, he spun my son, and in one smooth motion had him down on the pavement and had him pinned so he couldn’t move a muscle,” said Alec.

All his son could say was “wow.”

A Proud Son Shares a Story

For Alec, his father’s life is something he has come to appreciate more as he himself has aged. He said both his parents were extremely loving and caring, but because of his dad’s jobs, he was often traveling and away from home. He now has come to appreciate what that sacrifice has meant for others.

“That’s why I think I am so proud of him now, because what I’ve lost, as an individual son, I’ve gained by seeing how he was a stand in dad for so many others,” he said. “I’ve been there when people came up and have shaken his hand and said ‘Mr. Wright, you meant so much to me.’ “

“So I have learned to understand, that yeah, I had to share him, but what I lost comes back many fold because of the lives that he and mom touched.”

Awards

Mr. Wright received several honours and awards during his lifetime, including most recently being Ontario’s 2006 Senior Citizen of the Year, and being inducted into the South Simcoe County Museum’s Wall of Fame in 2006.

The Wrights are holding a small family service, but are planning a large, public memorial service Jan. 19, at the Alliston Legion, one day after what would be his 97th birthday. Alec said his father always enjoyed a party, and expects the January date to be a good one.

Mr. Wright is survived by his wife Ruth, his sons Alec and John, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by his daughter Carol Anne.

The family is asking that donations be made to the Banting Legacy Foundation in lieu of flowers. Cheques can be mailed to: Sir Frederick Banting Legacy Foundation, 2 John Ave., Alliston, Ontario, L9R 1J8

Charitable number 80740 6145 RR0001

- Courtesy of Simcoe.com

Bibliography