I am reading the paper this morning – the way I always read it, online. That would make my father cringe. He liked the ink and newsprint but, then, he had been a newspaperman since I was five. Actually, he was a newspaperman before I was a “glimmer in his eye” but I remember him as a reporter for The Evening Press and its current re-birth The Press and Sun-Bulletin.
The paper is full of its normal news this morning – construction to soon start on a new Wal-Mart in the area, the expections of second time state competition diver from Johnson City. It is also full of news of my father’s death. Yesterday morning, my father died. While I know how much this has devastated my family, I am seeing – as I did yesterday as I called people I didn’t know to inform them of the news – how my father’s life, and ultimately his death, has affected other people’s lives.
Having spent a good deal of his free time speaking at various firefighters’ events, my father had two different sets of biographical information on his computer. I have pieced the various files together into the obituary below. Look for some version of this soon in the local papers.
James W Wright, 71 of Norwich, New York, passed away after an illness the morning of March 3, 2009. Mr. Wright is survived by his wife Janice Kenyon Wright and four daughters – Nicki Conroy of the Town of Union in New York, Beth Lynne Wright of Somerset, New Jersey, Wendy Sue Wright and David Burdick of Norwich, New York and Jamie Lynn Moore and her husband Gary of Norwich, New York – nine grandchildren – Edwin, Andrew, Elise, Susan, Benjamin and Daniel Conroy, Logan and Noah Bufalini and Dustin Moore – and one sister, Kathryn Vona. He was predeceased by his parents, James Lowell Wright and Katherine Greene Wright.
Mr. Wright was born on March 1, 1938 in Sayre, Pennsylvania. He lived in in Hornell, NY until moving to Owego in the mid-1940’s. He attended Owego Free Academy and was a member of the graduating class of 1956. While attending school, he served as a full-time sports reporter for the Owego Times and Gazette. Upon graduation, Jim attended Temple University and wrote sports for the Temple Owl. He left school to become the sports editor of the now defunct Endicott Daily Bulletin. Shortly after becoming the Tioga County Bureau Chief for the Endicott Daily Bulletin, Jim was greeted by the now infamous Apalachin Gangland Convention at the Joseph Barbara estate. He covered the trials of many arrested, including Joseph Buffalino.
Jim served as a disc jockey, news director and play-by-play sports commentator for WEBO in Owego. After working as an interim Tioga County Bureau Chief for the Binghamton Press, Jim left Owego to become the Chenango County Bureau Chief, headquartered in Norwich on July 11, 1966. He covered all aspects of news including courts in Chenango and Delaware Counties and parts of Madison and Cortland Counties until the early 2000’s when the bureau was closed. At that time, Jim was shifted to the main office in Broome County to cover police and fire beats and serve as a secondary courts reporter. During his forty years of exclusively covering Chenango County, he covered scores of murder trials, including the Cynthia Raymond trial in Greene, NY.
In May of 2008, Jim was honored by the Chenango County Bar Association for his contributions to reporting in the courts. He received the 2008 Liberty Bell Award at the Law Day Celebration on May 2 at the courthouse where he covered many trials.
Along with his reporting, Jim was an avid volunteer in the fire service both in Chenango and Tioga Counties and statewide. He served as the Norwich Fire Department’s treasurer, secretary and vice president. He was also a Chenango County Deputy Fire Coordinator from 1976 until his retirement from that position in 2006. He was the secretary of the Chenango County Fire Chiefs Association at its inception. He served as secretary of the Chenango County Firemen’s Association for ten years. In 2003, Jim was named Norwich Firefighter of the Year. He was also presented with the Chenango County Fire Coordinators’ coveted Howard Bartlett Award for meritorious service to the fire service.
Jim has served as secretary to the New York State Fire Safety Educators’ Association, having held the position for more than ten years. He also served on the New York State Fire Chiefs’ Public Education Committee, serving several years as chairman.
Jim was currently serving his second five year term representing the Central New York Firemen’s Association as trustee at the Firemen’s Home in Hudson, New York. During his first term he served two years as secretary of the Board of Trustees. At his death, Jim was serving a two year term as president of the Board of Trustees. He also has served as one of the directors of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York’s Museum of Firefighting, having spent three years as secretary.
Jim enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and attending sporting events from Syracuse University football to Binghamton University basketball to Binghamton Senators hockey.