Lt Colonel, William D Wright, Jr, 97, of South Miami, Fl, passed away on Friday morning, April 9, 2021, after a 6 month battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his only son Robert, Daughter-in-law Janet, and three grandchildren: Robert, Jr (29), Ainsley Bjernegard (26), and Anne Wright (21). He is also survived by his sister Lois Allison, of Pembroke Pines, Fl.
WD as he was called, to distinguish himself from his father, was born in Key West, Fl, November 28,1923. Sometime before kindergarden, his parents moved to Miami-Dade county and settled in the Modelo area, where he attended Redland Elementary school, until eight, when his family relocated to the City of Miami, where he finished elementary school and would graduate from Robert E. Lee Jr High. He began Miami HS with a very tiring daily routine, waking each day at 3:30 AM, to deliver The Miami Herald, to families up and down Biscayne Blvd. He was often ready for a nap when school started, but he needed the spending money. His father worked full time for the Florida East Coast railroad and was gone five days a week. This meant helping his mother with his younger brother and sister. The harried schedule did not prevent him from being an A student, or being very involved in extra curricular activities and social functions. He also had the church attendance record at Holy Cross Episcopal, supposedly never missing one Sunday his entire school days. After graduating from Miami HS in 1941, he worked for FP&L for one year, before enlisting with the Marine Corp. After Basic training, he was assigned to the Pacific theatre, where he fired long range anti-aircraft artillery from the small islands. This explains the high pitch deafness! Less than one mile from his post, the Enola Gay sat ready for its mission to drop the atomic bomb.
After the war, he returned home to begin college. For his high test scores, he had been offered a full scholarship to the University of Florida, but wanted to remain in Miami. He enrolled at the University of Miami in 1946, where he was a proud active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, until his graduation in 1949, with a BS in Industrial Engineering.
As a graduate, he began his career in accounting with Ware Laboratories, and would eventually return to school to complete all the necessary courses to give him the equivalent of an accounting degree. At that time, not many engineering jobs existed in Miami and he did not want to relocate. He joined the reserves and was called up for the Korean War as a Lt., but would remain in the states.
After the Korean war, he joined the CIA and served for a few years in Washington, DC, fighting communism, but found the clandestine nature of the assignment too anti-social, therefore resigning for the private sector. In 1955 a fraternity brother introduced him to a pretty young lady, Carolyn Baer, who had recently moved from north Florida. In 1957 they were married in Gainesville, Fl, at her mothers house. He could hardly stomach a Gainesville wedding, since he was a die hard Hurricane.
He and Carolyn settled in South Miami and were active members of the First United Methodist Church of South Miami. In 1963, they had their only son, Robby, now 57.
He would then spend his next few years as a corporate accountant/controller for Howard Johnsons. Not wanting a transfer to Boston, he joined Burger King corporation in 1967, where he remained until 1982 as a controller. He then held two controller positions with smaller companies as he transitioned to retirement.
During retirement, he was a very active tennis player, staying involved with the Florida junior tennis circuit, after dedicating many years to Robby's (son) junior tennis career. He remained an active church member, eventually transferring his membership to First United Methodist of Coral Gables, after South Miami closed. He remained essentially a life-long member and board member of the Coral Gables Country Club and was social at various other clubs including the Coral Reef Yacht Club, Riviera CC, particularly with its long running weekly bible study group, and other military and civic organizations with his many friends, from both childhood and adulthood. He became a grandfather ("Papa") in 1991, to Robby Jr., in 1995 to Ainsley, and in 2000, to Anne. He enjoyed seeing them mature. He saw Robby Jr. earn his PHD in bio-chemistry, Ainsley graduate from college, get married, and soon make him a great grandfather. He saw Anne train her entire life in ballet, eventually becoming a professional dancer at 19.
Anyone who knew W.D., knew him as the True Gentleman.
A memorial service will be held on April 24, 2021 at 11:00am at Kendall Presbyterian Church 8485 SW 112th St, Kendall, FL 33156.
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