Friday, June 16, 2006

Legacies

Kennith Noal Wright Sr. was born on November 29, 1925 in Lufkin, Texas. He grew up in the deep piney woods of east Texas during the great depression. Although they were very poor, they were, like allot of people back then, a happy close knit family. When he was 9 his only brother was born.

About 1937 the family purchased on finance 50 acres of land just west of Pineland Tx. His mother worked taking in sewing & laundry and his father drove a truck for Piedon Iron and Steel in Houston. In the spring of 1937 tragedy struck: his father died in a crash at the age of 36 while hauling steel girders to be used in the Possum Kingdom Dam being built west of Mineral Wells, Tx. on the Brazos River. This changed his life forever. They moved to Houston so his mom could find better work to support the family. He and his brother both started working after school to help out.

Somehow they did the impossible and managed to grow into handsome young men, the best of the lot. It's no wonder. Their mother had the purest kind of heart. Even though they could barely make ends meet themselves they always had the table set and a spare bed ready for any friend or family member down on their luck. No other young men ever had a truer earthly example of God's love and mercy than what they saw in their mother.

At age 17 he was drafted into the navy and defended his country during WWII aboard the S.S. John Jacob Astor. Just before he shipped out he met the love of his life named, appropriately, Joy. They married after a year and she waited like millions of other women for him to come home. After the war they both began working for the same company his dad had driven for. Shortly afterwards he went to work for Carey Machinery, a manufacturer of off shore drilling equipment, as an area representative.

Soon he was transferred to Houma, Louisiana where he represented his company to the exploding off shore drilling industry. An interesting adventure involving a tug boat, an off shore rig, an engine block, a hurricane, and sinking in the gulf convinced him to seek a new line of work. His father-in-law owned a small grocery store in Dallas and offered to take him in and teach him the grocery trade. In the summer of 1954 they moved. After 5 years of working and saving he found a location in the suburb of Irving, a nice quiet town that did not allow the sale of alcohol thus removing one major headache of the grocery business.

After 15 years of very hard work, of 7 day weeks and 18 hour days, along the way choosing to go the route of the convenience store rather than the super market, he had managed to grow the business to 6 locations all in the same town. By this time his oldest son had moved back from college with his wife. They began a family and he joined in the business with the hopes for even more growth.

On January 2, 1979 he suffered a massive heart attack. The doctors told him this was the end of his working days and he would have to take it easy from then on. 10 days later at the age of 53 he died of another heart attack while still in the hospital.

Besides his love, a home, and a business he left his share of that 50 acres his mother had managed to pay off years earlier through some miracle of finance and dedication.

I remember Dad as a fairly quiet kind of guy - 6Ft tall, balding, though in his youth he had a full head of black curly hair to go along with pale blue eyes - never a bragger - never a show off - content to go unnoticed in a crowd - never afraid to say 'I love you' - a wicked, dry sense of humor - a teaser and practical joker - admired by everyone - used his position as a business owner to be a servant to God, his family, his community, his employees, and his customers.

No one could have had a better father growing up than I did. No son could have had a better example of what it meant to be a real man than I did.

Happy Father's day, Dad.


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