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James R. "Jim" Wright
age 62, of Gnadenhutten, went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, July 13, 2013. He had fought a tough battle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which was diagnosed a few months ago. Born May 26, 1951, at Columbus, he was a son of the late Everett (Joyce) Wright and Shirley Houston Wright (Buddy) Jenkins. Jim moved at a young age with his family to Tuscarawas County, where he grew up and graduated from Indian Valley South High School. Jim was an excellent athlete and gained the nickname, "Rabbit," because of his quickness. He joined the U.S. Navy and made it a career. It was during his service time that Jim met Idabelle "Ida" McLaren at the former Naval Security Station (now the Department of Homeland Security) in Washington, D.C. The two discovered they had much in common, fell in love, and were married at the Station on Feb. 19, 1977. The Navy gave the couple, and later their young family, the opportunity to travel and experience new places, but the Tuscarawas Valley was always special to Jim. Following his retirement from the Navy as a Chief Petty Officer/E7, after 20 years of honorable service, the Wrights relocated to Gnadenhutten. Focused and dedicated, Jim earned his Bachelor's Degree from Kent State University, and his Master's Degree from Muskingum College, culminating in his certification as an Intervention Specialist one who works with children who have mild-to-intensive disabilities (including those that are learning and cognitive disabilities), emotional disturbances, and physical impairments. He became an aide at the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center's STAR Alternative School at New Philadelphia. Jim had a huge amount of empathy for the kids at STAR, and he was described as "a disciplinarian with a heart, who always kept young people's best interests at the core of his efforts." He was a great teacher who "clicked" with the kids, and he became a mentor to many. Ultimately, Jim became the school's director. When illness came, it was a huge challenge to Jim, as there was always so much more work to do. Even with Stage IV cancer, it was important for him to be at STAR including the last day of school this spring. He did the absolute best with what he was given. Jim was a big fan of the Washington Redskins and attended many games with close family and friends. He enjoyed playing golf, as well as spending time with loved ones boating at Atwood Lake.
Survivors include his loving wife, Ida; his children, who will forever benefit from his love and his abilities as a teacher and coach at many different levels, Katherine C. "Kate" (fiance, Garrett Fisher) Wright of Sugarcreek, James G. (wife, Lisa) Wright of Dover, and Thomas E. Wright of Gnadenhutten; his two grandchildren, with whom he was very close, Kiera N. and Christian T.; his sister, Trish (husband, Jeff) Melnichenko of Port Washington; his brothers, Todd Wright of Kapolei, Hawaii, Tom (wife, Cam) Hagerman of New Albany, Jack Wright of Dover, Jerry Wright of San Antonio, Texas, Craig Wright of Delaware, Ohio, and Mike (wife, Judy) Jenkins of Dublin; his stepmother, Joyce Wright of Port Washington, who had a strong influence on Jim's life; and his many nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his stepfather, Buddy Jenkins; and by his brothers, David and Kerry Jenkins.
Family and friends are invited to call at the Toland-Herzig Funeral Home & Crematory, 803 N. Wooster Ave., Dover, on Friday, July 19, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Saturday, July 20, at 10:30 a.m., in the funeral home with Pastor Hombre Liggett of the Church of the Harvest at Dover officiating. Burial will be in Gnadenhutten's Clay Union Cemetery, where the Newcomerstown Veterans Honor Guard will perform military rites. Following the committal, there will be a luncheon in the Toland-Herzig Monarch Center on the Boulevard at Dover. To sign an online guestbook and share a fond memory of Jim, please visit the Obituaries and Flowers link on the funeral home's website. Jim loved the kids at STAR School, and his dream was as follows (he had written this out and taped it to his refrigerator so he would see it daily): "
that a clean, safe building, large enough to educate 100 STAR Alternative School children will be funded without an additional burden being placed on taxpayers." To help this dream come to fruition, the family suggests that contributions in Jim's name be made to the James R. Wright/STAR Alternative School Building Fund, c/o The Commercial & Savings Bank, 635 W. High Ave., New Philadelphia, OH 44663.
Toland-Herzig Funeral Homes & Crematory
803 N Wooster Ave
Dover, OH 44622
Published in The Times Reporter on July 18, 2013