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Dr. Thomas D. Wright

Dr. Thomas D. Wright died on July 21, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C., after enjoying 84 orbits around the sun, as he liked to say.

A native of Temple, Texas, he was the son of Col. Thomas R. Wright, MD and Clara Opal Dodson Wright, RN.

Dr. Wright was a graduate of Marlin High School, in Marlin, Texas. He served in the U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division during the Korean Conflict, and then attended the University of Texas/Austin, and the University of Wisconsin/Madison, where he received a Ph.D. in Zoology/Limnology.

He served on the faculty of Cornell University, the University of Virginia, and Michigan Technological University and was employed as a senior research ecologist at the Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg. Following his retirement in 1996, he was active as an independent environmental consultant until his death.

Dr. Wright was an ardent conservationist, taking up the banner of environmental protection early in his career. As a scientist, he was internationally known and respected for his expertise in complex environmental issues such as deepwater dredging and spoils disposal, wetlands mitigation, inland waterways development and environmental law. He was a Certified Fishery Scientist and a Certified Environmental Professional, a member of Sigma XI, and the author of over 150 journal articles, books and other technical publications.

Upon retirement, he and his wife Gretchen enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle, traveling across the country in their “pull-toy” (38-foot travel trailer), visiting friends and relatives, fishing and taking memorable trips to diverse locations such as Copper Canyon, Mexico, before finally settling down in North Carolina to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

He was a keen student of history and spent time researching and compiling a family genealogical record.

Dr. Wright was a Master Gardener and beekeeper and enjoyed lecturing to civic groups and school children on these topics. He loved hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities.

Tom was a humorist and storyteller as well, recounting tales of early life in Texas and later his introduction to dairy farming as the husband of a Wisconsin farm girl. Friends and family always knew that a bad joke or pun was on the way by a certain twinkle in his eye accompanied with a mischievous smile.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gretchen; two children, Thomas Wright of Hubbell, Mich., Sherri (Ward) Jarvis of Hillsborough, N.C; two grandsons, Kevin (Leah) Jarvis of Swepsonville, N.C., Scott (Emily) Jarvis of Raleigh, N.C.; and his great-granddaughter, Palmer Lorraine Jarvis.

A donation to a favorite conservation or wildlife charity would be an appropriate way to remember his efforts and legacy of protecting the world for future generations.