Rev. Sargent (Sarge) Wright Obituary

Sargent John Wright was born in Freeport, Illinois, on September 1, 1920, the only child of Leo and Hazel Wright. As a child growing up in a small town, his life revolved around milking cows, singing duets with his father at church, participating in Eagle Scouts, sports and music lessons.

Sarge graduated from the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, with a BA in Music Ed. and Psychology.  While studying here, he directed choirs, played his cornet, and was director of the YMCA Boy’s Club.  There, he also met and married, Lucille Woodrow, with whom he shared 65 years of marriage till her death in 2006.

After earning his Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, he joined the United States Navy as a Chaplain on a troop transport ship during World War II and the Korean War.  His duties onboard included holding worship services for many faiths and keeping 2600 troops busy with recreational programs, the library, and a ship newspaper.  In his capacity there, he learned much about anger, fear, family needs, living and dying.

Following his discharge from active duty and some pre-doctoral study at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Sarge served as Pastor in many United Methodist Churches: Maywood, Illinois; Cambrian Park, in  San Jose, California; Lafayette, California. He was also a District Superintendent to 60 churches in the Fresno, California area. He was founding Pastor of Sierra Pines United Methodist Church in Grass Valley, California. After his formal retirement from the ministry in 1976, he served as interim minister to nine United Methodist Churches in Northern California, and for six years as visiting Chaplain for St Mark’s United Methodist Church.

Sarge’s many lifetime experiences attest to his abiding love of people and music, and his example of God’s love.  In all the churches he served, his focus was on the people with whom he worked—leading them to accept themselves, love God, and cherish the humanity in us all. He was a super-organizer and a masterful delegator, and thus was able to draw people together to support and share with each other.

Never one to let life go by, he earned his Master of Marriage and Family Counseling and his Doctorate of Divinity at Claremont School of Theology in 1976.  He and his wife, Lucille (who was also licensed in counseling), held marriage seminars, did counseling, and opened counseling centers in Arcadia, South Sacramento, and Auburn.

Sarge’s dedication to people and their needs motivated him to become involved in many causes. He marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and collected musical instruments for children decimated by Hurricane Katrina. He went on mission trips to many parts of the world, and was active in the Masons and Kiwanis.

Sarge was a daredevil. He loved thrills. At 89, he celebrated with a bungee jump.  On his 90th birthday, he  sky dived. For his 91st birthday, he became the oldest person to drive a NASCAR  race car on the Roseville track. He and his wife, Lucille, loved to travel.  During their time together, they were able to be tour guides on twelve overseas trips to Europe, China, Australia, Israel, and Asia.

Sarge passed away at home peacefully on Friday, March 7, surrounded by love and his family. He is survived by his four children: Sandra MacMurdo (David), Suisun City, California; Carol Pearl, Seattle, Washington; Sargent D. Wright (Betty), Fresno, California; and William F. Wright (Kathy), Citrus Heights, California; his seven grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren.

The things Sarge did, he did with competence, humor, joy, persistence and energy. He drew people together to help them see the beauty in themselves and others. He will be dearly missed.