James Claris Wright, Jr., M.D.
Dr. Wright of Indianapolis, Indiana passed away on March 22, 2012. He died peacefully surrounded by family. He was a beloved husband, devoted father, loving grandfather, and caring brother. His great charm, optimism, enthusiasm for life and wit will be deeply missed.
Jim was born on June 30, 1930 in Wedowee, Alabama, the only son of James Claris Sr. and Jeanette Wright. Jim graduated from Randolph High School in 1948 and then matriculated at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa as a premedical student. He graduated in 1952 and began his studies as a medical student at the New York Medical College in New York, NY, graduating in1956. After medical school, Jim performed his internship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where he met his future wife, Audrey Stevens, a nurse. After his internship, Jim served in the US Navy on active duty from June 1957 - July 1959 and on reserve duty until 1971. He left duty with the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Navy. During his time in the Navy, he served as the Chief Medical Officer on various military sea transportation service ships sailing between New York and the port of Barcelona, Spain, as well as serving as the Director of Military Dispensary at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. It was during Jim's period of military service in October of 1957 that Jim and Audrey were married.
Jim was a Resident in Pediatrics at the Medical College-Metropolitan Hospital Center in New York City from July 1959 - June 1961, and then became a Fellow in Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland from July 1961 - June 1964. At Hopkins, Jim was one of the thirteen physicians who were the first doctors in the U.S. to be trained in the field of Pediatric Endocrinology by the pioneer of the discipline, Dr. Lawson Wilkins. After his Fellowship, Jim became the Director, Clinical Research Center, at the Illinois State Pediatric Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He held this position from June 1964 - June 1969.
In June 1969, Jim began a position as Director of the Pediatric Endocrinology Department at Riley Children's Hospital, the first pediatric endocrinologist to practice in the state of Indiana. Jim's relationship with Riley and Indiana University School of Medicine continued until his retirement in 2000. During his tenure at IU, Jim helped thousands of patients while at the same time growing the Department to national prominence. In addition to his role as departmental director, Jim also was a Professor of Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, as well as serving 15 years on the Admissions Committee for the school.
Jim was an active parishioner of Trinity Episcopal Church for over forty years. He tirelessly served the church as a member of the vestry serving as Senior and Junior Warden, Lay Chalice Bearer, Usher and was a member of several committees involving the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.
Jim is survived by his wife of 55 years, Audrey, five children and their spouses: Wendy (Erick) Ponader, Kim (Patrick) Egan, Matthew (Nancy) Wright, Jonathan (Jennifer) Wright, and Elizabeth Wright and ten beloved grandchildren: Margaret Ponader, Conor, Trevor and Molly Egan, Lily and Maisy Wright, and Ben, Charlie, Lucy and Addie Wright. His treasured grandson, Andrew Ponader, preceded Jim in death. Jim is also survived by his dearly loved only sibling, Betty (Ralph) Bolt of Anniston, AL and two nephews, Preston Bolt of Mobile, AL and Andrew Bolt of Madison, NJ.
Jim will be interred in the Columbarium at Trinity Episcopal Church during a private service for family. A memorial service celebrating Jim's life will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 3243 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46208 to be followed by further celebration at Highland Golf and Country Club, 1050 W. 52nd St., Indianapolis from 12:30 until 2:30 p.m. All are welcome. Memorials may be made in honor of Jim to the Riley Children's Foundation at http://www.rileykids.org.