Bob Wright went home to be with the Lord Saturday, July 31, 2021, after a brief illness. It is with love and joy that we his family remember his interesting and full life.
Bob was born January 7, 1940, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He was the fourth of five children, and was 15 minutes older than his twin brother, Len.
He graduated from St. Andrews High School in Charleston, SC in 1958; Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL in 1961; and Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL in 1963. He received a Masters degree in Education from Northern Illinois University in 1967.
He taught High School History at Fenton High School in Bensenville, IL from 1963-1971. Then he taught and was a dorm parent with his wife Betty at the high school boys’ dorm at Good Shepherd School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1971-1977. He taught a wide range of Social Studies courses: History, Law, Psychology, Sociology, Government and Economics, Bible History, and Theory of Knowledge at Vanguard High School in Ocala, FL, from 1977-2005. Toward the end of his teaching career he introduced teaching character qualities each week. This was always the students’ favorite part of his classes. Throughout his teaching career he used the power of story to crystalize the concepts he was teaching. He also liked to make learning a joy, and he did this by using simulation games, field trips, and guest speakers. He sponsored several clubs during his years at Vanguard: the Chess Club, Teen Age Republicans, and Youth Alive.
He was a coach for Little League Baseball, and high school Wrestling, Track and Field, and Cross Country. In Track and Field he had a high jumper that competed in the 1984 Junior Olympics in Los Angeles and several athletes who competed in the Junior Nationals in Illinois in 1985. In the 1980s, Bob did special trips and events with his Cross Country teams. These included things like Dairy Queen Runs and a yearly Pancake Run to his home. One year he took his team on a pre-season training trip to Helen, GA.
Bob retired from teaching in 2005. During his retirement, he enjoyed spending more time with his family. With his wife and daughter, he became involved in several outreach ministries. It was his joy to once again be connected with Child Evangelism Fellowship in a local Good News Club at Madison Street Academy for over 5 years. [Bob’s parents introduced Child Evangelism to South Africa in the late 1930s. Bob did neighborhood outreach with CEF in his college years also.] The family was involved with him in a national marriage ministry for six years called Noble Call Institute and based in IL. One great love for Bob was evaluating home schooling families in Marion County, FL. Bob had a special rapport with children and young people and they looked forward to their yearly evaluations with Mr. Bob. He had the privilege of evaluating a number of families where all the children had him through the whole twelve years of their education. He liked to encourage the parents who were hard on themselves that they truly were doing a great job with their children.
Bob loved to read and he read around 200+ books each year during his retirement. He also started reading the Bible through when he was 12 years old. He read it every year from when he was 15 until the present. Being a history teacher, he loved current events, talk radio, and even historical biographies and such.
A few of his unusual lifetime achievements and experiences were: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with some of his students in 1976, running his own marathon at 8,000 feet in Ethiopia, singing with a choir before the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I; teaching teachers in a Christian School in Uganda how to teach academic studies using the Bible in 2004.
Bob was a good writer and in 2003 he was inspired to pass on what he would like the new generations of young men to know about making good choices and being good men. He wrote a series of over 50 letters addressing timeless principles that would help young men live godly lives. He also went on to write 50 letters to husbands and fathers about godly marriage and parenting. Aside from these, Bob also wrote stories from his teaching years and memories from high school and other key periods of his life.
One of the most important parts of Bob’s life was his family. He was a father who played board games and sports with his children, who talked about things that mattered, disciplined in a loving and character-building way, shared from his life experiences, and had a listening ear and compassionate heart. He kept his word. He made time. He was a faithful husband, father, and man. His coaching became a family experience. His time and care for others added to the depth of his family’s experiences. He was gentle. His Christian witness was natural and real. He was simple in his tastes. His little blue Datsun b210 was renowned, with over 20 years and 400,000 miles.
He was friendly, loyal, kind, and fun to listen to. He is well liked and well loved and will be missed. But we are glad to know he had assurance from God’s Word that because he received Christ as his Savior and Lord, he will be with Him for all eternity and we, who also know the Lord, will see Bob again in amazing and wonderful surroundings.
We think of that verse for Bob, “I say this because I won’t be around to help very much longer. My time has almost run out. Very soon now I will be on my way to heaven. I have fought long and hard for my Lord, and through it all I have kept true to Him. And now the time has come for me to stop fighting and rest. In heaven a crown is waiting for me which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return.” [II Timothy 4:6-8, TLB]
We are so blessed in knowing this man, Bob Wright. Many lives are better because he lived, and because of the kind of man he was. With gratefulness to the Lord, we give him freely to receive his reward and joyful rest.
He is survived by his wife, Betty, son David (wife Spring), daughter Christy; grandchildren Benjamin and Abby; siblings, Ray, Ken, Heather, and Len; and many who consider him a father or mentor.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at Grace Presbyterian Church Ocala, FL at 3PM Sunday, August 8, 2021. There will be a viewing at the church from 2:30 - 2:50 p.m. The service is to be streamed live on the church’s YouTube channel and will also be available to be viewed later on.
In honor of Bob, donations may be made to CEF of Marion County.