James Arden Wright was born in St. Louis on 14 June 1923, the son of “Jack” John Dewitt Wright and “Vee” Verena Hannah Althaus. In 1947, at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, he married Eleanor Straub, daughter of Charles H. Straub and Edna C. Schulz. Jim and Elly had two daughters. He died 22 August 2020 at the age of ninety-seven with burial in Oak Hill Cemetery, Kirkwood alongside Elly.

After his kindergarten year at Bristol School in Webster Groves, from 1929 to 1934 the Wright family lived in Omaha, Nebraska. There Jim attended Dundee School through the sixth grade, making many life-long friends.

Returning to St. Louis in 1935, Jim spent his summers at Camp Irondale, first as a camper and later as an instructor. A scouting highlight occurred in 1937, when he attended both the National Jamboree in Washington, D.C. and the World Jamboree in Veenendahl, Netherlands. He learned to sail as a Sea Scout and was awarded the Eagle Scout rank. Jim graduated from Webster Groves High School in 1941. Receiving a scholarship to Princeton University, he attended for two years, 1941–1943, before his World War II service.

Jim Wright
Jim Wright (1947, 1979, 2015)
Photo in the collection of Carol Whitton
Used with permission

The U.S. Army sent him to the Army Specialist Training Program (ASTP), where he continued his engineering education at the University of Florida and Ohio State University. But by the time he graduated ASTP, the Army had sufficient engineers for its special program. Instead, he was assigned to the 63rd Infantry Division, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 253rd Infantry Regiment. He served as battalion radio repairman, mainly in France, and was awarded a Bronze Star. Later he also served in the 3113 Signal Corps Service Battalion and the Transatlantic Submarine Cable Station at Cherbourg where he was Chief Cable Technician. Discharged in 1946, he returned to Princeton University and graduated Cum Laude with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1947, but as part of the class of 1945 with which he had entered

Jim first practiced engineering at Ajax Electrothermic in Trenton, New Jersey. In the summer of 1949, he and Elly returned to St. Louis where he worked for the White Rodgers Division of Emerson Electric, designing controls for washing machines, dishwashers, thermostats, and clothes dryers. For a short time, he also managed the appliance controls engineer division. In 1977, they moved to Detroit where he worked with the Automotive Division of United Technologies designing automotive parts. With these companies, he registered twenty-three electronic parts patents.

After retiring in 1993 and returning to St. Louis in 2000, Jim and Elly moved to the Laclede Groves Retirement Community in 2004. Throughout his life, Jim supported both Boy Scouting and the church. At both Webster Groves Presbyterian and Cherry Hill Presbyterian in Detroit he ran Eagle Scout preparation and God and Country programs. He served both churches in various capacities: deacon, trustee, elder, Sunday School teacher, and elder group leader. He kept active by traveling; writing his autobiography; planning many reunions for the WGHS class of 1941, scouts, or school friends; playing bridge, and writing letters to a life-time’s worth of friends.

Written by Carol Wright Whitton, CG
February 2021

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Last Modified: 18-Nov-2021 14:20