By Ralphine Major
On a beautiful day filled with blue skies and a gentle breeze, family and friends celebrated with this outstanding family of the Gibbs Community in Corryton. Everything was perfectly planned and carried out the “Wright” way! My family and I were on hand for this joyous occasion on Sunday, August 26, at Clapps Chapel United Methodist Church. The event was hosted by the Wrights’ sons and their wives. The daughters-in-law, with help from Judy Spitzer and Becky Calfee, honored this wonderful couple in a clever way by using a farm theme. With farm decorations adorning the table, guests were treated to delicious pastries topped with berries, fresh-baked cookies, mixed nuts, a tasty Tennessee orange punch, and mouth-watering cupcakes created by Becky Calfee. The cupcakes, which were topped off with chocolate-shaped farm animals, were eye-catchers. In fact, they looked so professional, I thought it was a catered event. The Wrights were surrounded by family and friends, including the Spitzer and Thompson families on Georgia’s side. Though I did not need to attend a reception to write about this special couple whose marriage has spanned 70 years, I would not have missed it for the world! Bill and Georgia have already written their story day by day all through the years.
This amazing couple met at Gibbs High School after Bill’s family moved to Corryton in his sophomore year. They had lived in town where he attended Fulton High School. When she was twelve, Georgia’s family moved to Corryton from the Loyston/Norris Dam area after the TVA buyout of property. After they were married, Bill worked for Fulton’s about fifteen years. He left Fulton’s after discovering that: (1) he made more money on the farm at the time than at Fulton’s; and (2) running a dairy farm himself and also running two milk tankers for Dairymen, Inc., hauling milk for the surrounding farms in the area took more time than he had when “working full-time.” Many times, my brother, Wayne, and I saw the Dairymen milk tanker pull into our dairy barn to load and transport milk.
With all the scenes from a farm setting, their homestead could appear in any magazine about country life. There is the house, barn, silos, pond, hay, animals, and, of course, family. The Wrights have always set aside time to spend with family. They are blessed with three sons and daughters-in-law. Dave is retired from South Central Bell. He is often in the media and is probably best known as a Knox County Commissioner for the Eighth District. His wife, Pat, owns her own beauty shop; and they have been married 46 years. Richard works for the post office. He and his wife, Jane, celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. Jane retired from TVA as a computer analyst after thirty-one years but continues to do contract work three days a week. It was our dad’s delight to stand at the top of the driveway and yell to Richard when he went down the road on his mail run. Charlie and Christina are retired Lieutenant Colonels for the U.S. Army. I once rode to work in a van-pool with Charlie, though the West Point graduate now works in Oak Ridge. Charlie told me that he and Christina only have 37 more anniversaries to go to catch up with his Mom and Dad!
The Wright’s family tree branches out with five grandchildren who are graduates of Emory University, University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University, United States Air Force Academy; and the last one is a junior at Milligan College. There are two great-grandchildren: one in Tennessee and one in Florida.
The Wrights were some of our Dad’s dearest friends. Ralph could roll off the words “Bill Wright” as though they were one. I have seen Bill Wright baling hay in our field many, many times. Wayne reminded me that Bill Wright went with Dad and him to Sweetwater, Tennessee, to look for a tractor. Wayne recalls when they drove onto the parking lot, Bill spotted a Massey Ferguson 135 and said, “Majors, there’s your tractor.” They bought it. Ralph also bought a white ‘84 Chevrolet pickup truck from Bill Wright. Though he had it painted a wine color, Dad drove it for years and still had it when he died.
In addition to family, something else is very important to Bill and Georgia. Just inside the entrance at Clapps Chapel were pictures of Bill in uniform along with military memorabilia. A basket on the table held donations that were designated for HonorAir, the program started by Eddie Mannis to honor war veterans by taking them on a trip to visit the war memorial in Washington D.C. Bill served in World War II and Georgia traveled with him whenever they moved from one military base to another while he was in the service.
Bill and Georgia Wright embody all that is good in America: working hard, helping neighbors, and putting a strong emphasis on family ties and values. They are what makes families and communities strong and our nation great. Truly, they are awesome! Jane shared something so precious about her mother-in-law and father-in-law, I hope it inspires all who read it: “At the end of the day, Bill and Georgia have ‘story hour’ as they call it. Because of her failing eyesight, he reads to her the noteworthy news of the day from the newspaper, The Knoxville Focus, Reader’s Digest, Foxfire book, etc. This time, the story will be ‘their own’—and what a life story to tell.
Publisher’s Note: I have been very blessed to know Georgia and Bill Wright for several years. There are no two finer people anywhere. They embody everything that is good with regard to Family and Community. In fact, they are an outstanding example of what parents and grandparents should be. I am thankful that they are my friends. My prayer is that they enjoy many more celebrations together. Steve Hunley, Publisher.