Jeanne Wright

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Wright, Jeanne
On October 20, 2013, in her 87th year, Jeanne Wright died peacefully in her home from complications due to age. Jeanne was born January 14, 1926 in Mesa, Arizona to Norma Guthrie and John Garnett Nix. She grew up on the N-X Ranch with her brothers and sisters and attended the LDS 2nd Ward in Phoenix. Her early schooling was at Riverside School, a three-room schoolhouse, and graduated top of her class at age 11 from the 8th grade. She entered Phoenix Union High School at age 11. Despite her young age, Jeanne excelled in all her classes and participated in many extracurricular activities. One of her favorites was the Auditorium Club where her love for plays and musical shows began. During her senior year, her piano-playing talent blossomed, as she worked for Newberry's in the sheet music department, playing songs for prospective buyers. Jeanne graduated from PUHS in 1941 and then moved on to Phoenix College and finished her teaching degree at Arizona State College (now ASU). That first year, Jeanne would meet Jack Wright from Mesa, with his 'now-famous' smile and after dating a few years, they were married on June 22, 1944 in the LDS Arizona Temple. They were married for 56 years. Beginning in 1948, Jeanne taught for six years at Mesa Irving and Alma Schools. Years later when people asked, "Were you a dancer?" She would always reply, "No, I was a teacher who missed teaching." Growing up on a ranch didn't give Jeanne much opportunity for community service but after marrying Jack it seems they were always involved in some civic affair. She wrote, directed and produced numerous community plays and musicals. She was President of Mesa Aquatic Club; she formed the show-stopping "Mesa Imps" and served on the Mesa Parks and Recreation Board. In 1981 she was selected as Mesa's Woman of the Year and later honored by Mesa's Rotary Club. In 1989, Jeanne became the State Chairman of the Arizona Jr. Miss Program. In 1995 she was selected as Arizona's "Mother of the Year." In 1958, the same year Jeanne joined the Jack Wright Orchestra as their piano player, she started Jeanne's School of Dance; an enterprise that eventually included five studios and two youth ballet companies, which served thousands of students spanning over 50 years. In 2012, Jeanne was awarded the prestigious "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Arizona Dance Coalition. Jeanne's love of antiques resulted in the opening of yet a new business, "Cherry Street Antiques," after the passing of her husband in 2001. Jeanne was a lifelong member of the LDS church and served tirelessly in all the auxiliaries; teaching, writing, coordinating roadshows, parent-youth programs, speech, dance and drama festivals. She was general chairman of Horizon's '84. This was a Young Women's Conference for over 10,000 girls and leaders at NAU. For many years, during the Christmas season, Jeanne co-chaired the "Living Nativity" at the Mesa Arizona Temple. While Jeanne's life was continuous service to her community and church, her greatest treasure was always her family. Jeanne is survived by two sisters, Cheryl (Ed) Long and Mary Louise Elliott, six children, John (Jane) Wright, Jeanine (Brian) Smith, Joy (Chet) Arnett, Julie (Jay) Blair, Jim (Tina) Wright, and Jack (Janeen) Wright. She has 37 grandchildren and 68 great-grandchildren. Her family is eternally grateful for the many legacies her rich and long life has left. Her positive attitude, enthusiasm for life, lifting and building up all around her, willingness to cultivate and share her many talents with everyone were the hallmarks of her life. Services honoring the life of Jeanne will be held Saturday, Oct. 26th at 10 am at the LDS Chapel, 1054 W. 2nd Place in Mesa. There will be a viewing Friday, Oct. 25th from 6:00-8:00 pm at the same location. Interment will be in the Mesa City Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the LDS Humanitarian Aid Fund, Missionary Fund or the Perpetual Education Fund, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 50 E. North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84150. Arrangements by Bunker's Garden Chapel.




Published in The Arizona Republic on Oct. 24, 2013
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