B.J. Wright, you are unrepeatable. There is a magic about you that is all your own. A resident of Pasadena, CA, B.J. Wright, aka Robert J. Wright, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, with his two sisters at his side. He eventually succumbed to colon cancer. Growing up in Shelbyville shaped his life. A childhood often spent on his grandfather's farm, complete with a baseball field, sparked his interest in baseball. The horse farms of Kentucky cemented his love for horse racing. His first career, selling encyclopedias door to door, started his business career. At Shelbyville High School he played all sports and was known for his popularity and mischievousness. After a few years at Transylvania University in Lexington, he went on to work for the Collier Publishing Company. His rise up the ladder eventually took him to Glendale, CA where he raised his children and became vice president of Collier. B.J. was the consummate entrepreneur. In 1984, he found his calling as president and owner of LifeSource Water Systems, a water filtration company in Pasadena, Calif. A believer in the importance of good water, all of his racehorses drink filtered water. It led him to his charitable work with Rainforest Flow, providing clean water and sanitation to villagers in the Peruvian Amazon. B.J. wore beads blessed by a Peruvian Shaman and donated portions of his purses to the charity. After racing a few horses during the 1960's, he returned to ownership in the late 1990's. In between, he coached baseball for Glendale Little League. He coached at all levels and when his son, Jay, grew out of the program, he coached t-ball for 20 more years. His business success afforded him the opportunity to indulge in his passion. In 2008, with his children at the helm of the company, he had the time and energy to completely focus on horse racing. Known as a charismatic owner who often hugged those around him, the racetrack was all about fun for B.J. He loved bringing a large contingent of family and friends to watch his prized horses, Jeranimo and Ultimate Eagle win many graded races including The Eddie Read Handicap 2013, Shoemaker Mile 2012 and Hollywood Derby in 2011. The more than 20 summers spent in Del Mar with his horses, his trainer, Michael Pender, and his family were the highlight of every year.
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He was preceded in death by his grandson, Hank; daughter, Lesley Wright. B.J. is survived by his, daughter, Cherie Wright Harris (Mark), grandson, Bryan of Pasadena, CA; son Jay Wright (Beth) and granddaughter, Althea of Seal Beach CA; sister, Virginia Lyon (John) of Knoxville, TN and nieces, Mary Ellen and Ann Eizabeth (Kevin); sister, Atha Ann Ford of Bowling Green, and her children Katherine and Jess; along with friends too numerous to count, loyal and loving employees and his wonderful caregiver, Bonnie. B.J. had a way of making everyone he encountered feel important and supplied most friends with a nickname that suited them perfectly. His enthusiasm motivated so many. We will forever remember his extraordinary laughter, spirit and thirst for life. We will truly miss you, as we are, in your words ?Traveling Down the Highway of Life."
A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, July 27. Contact the family for details. Donations can be made to: Rainforest Flow 7336 Santa Monica Ave #664 LA, CA 90046.
Published in The Sentinel-News from July 17 to July 24, 2014