County’s first full-time agent dies
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 8:18 pm
Obion County’s first full-time assistant county agent has died.
Graham Patton Wright, 95, who was born Aug. 16, 1915, on a farm along the banks of the Little Harpeth River near Arrington in Montgomery County, died March 11, 2011. He had received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1938 and his master’s degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville in 1939.
During World War II, Graham served during five invasions as a U.S. Army Air Corp flight chief from 1941 to 1945. His service included two invasions in North Africa, Salerno and Anzio, Sicily, and in southern France. At the end of World War II, he was flown to England aboard a C-47 that crash landed with no one injured. Graham returned stateside from England aboard the Europa, the largest German passenger ship captured during World War II. Once out to sea, the ship began listing and was in danger of capsizing while crossing the Atlantic to New York City. He stated that he was never so happy to see the Statue of Liberty as when he arrived in New York City to a hero’s welcome with fireboats shooting sprays of water.
As a young boy, Graham was active in the 4-H program, raising chickens, and the Boy Scouts’ Venturing program, canoeing the Cumberland River.
In 1945, he became the first, full-time assistant county agent with 4-H and youth development in Obion County. He also worked at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock from 1949-54 and was program leader at Purdue University Extension Center in Indianapolis in 1954. In December 1954, Wright joined the University of Arizona faculty as state 4-H leader. During his 18-year Arizona career, he was instrumental in establishing and developing the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation (1970) as one of the earliest 4-H Foundations in the nation. From these efforts and those following, the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation grew during its 40-year history to currently serving over 142,000 4-H youth.
Presently, Wright’s son, Doug Wright is the vice president of the Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation. Graham Wright introduced the 4-H program to a majority of the 21 federally-recognized Arizona Native American tribes. He also implemented statewide 4-H Club Junior Leadership Training programs before retiring in June 1972 with 30 years of civil service.
The legacy of Graham Wright’s 4-H professional career was honored on Oct. 8, 2010, in Silver Spring, Md., when he was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame.
He is also survived by his wife of 64 years, Marilyn; his daughter, Dr. Emily Vance of Tucson, Ariz.; two grandchildren, Jason Vance of Tucson and Jessica Vance of LaJolla, Ariz.; and his sister and brother-in-law, Margaret “Putt” and Thomas R. Cummings of Nashville.
He was preceeded in death by his parents, Suzie Mae and Graham C. Wright of Nashville; and his sisters, Mary Wright Lyle and Susan M. Schoonvel.
“Graham loved the 4-H program and the belief that our nation’s great strength is deeply rooted in the ethics of our forefathers. Graham lived the 4-H Pledge every day: ‘I Pledge my Head to clearer thinking, my Heart to greater loyalty, my Hands to larger service, and my Health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world,” Doug Wrght said.
The family requests memorials be made to Arizona 4-H Youth Foundation, 325 Forbes Blvd., The University of Arizona, P. O. Box 210036, Tucson, AZ 85716-0036 or use the online link: http://ag.arizona.edu/4-h_foundation/2008-%20support%204-h.htm.
Published in The Messenger 4.5.11