Dad’s celebration of Life

Yesterday we held dad’s “celebration of Life”.  I call it that because that’s what it was more then a funeral.  There were so many people there..I was overwhelmed by how many people loved my dad and were there to support us through this time of loss.  There was a lot of laughter, a lot of music and a lot of love shared during the service.  I thought I would share some of the memories that some of the family members had of dad.  I hope this gives a little picture of the larger then life man that was my dad!


Laura Grand Daughter in law of Don (Jeff’s Daughter in law) -One of my favorite memories is when Jason & I let Don tell the family that I was pregnant at christmas dinner. He said that he had a big announcement to make and made it sound like he had found a hot new woman and was going to run off to get remarried. It was hilarious to look at everyone’s shocked faces and the relief when it was just the grandkids who were knocked up.


Diane Daughter in Law of Don (Jeff’s Wife)-What I will remember the most about Don is his crazy sense of humor! 
He could tell you a story that was completely made up and tell it with such 
a straight face that you thought for sure it must be fact. Then, once he 
knew he had you, he would get a twinkle in his eye and flash that big smile and laugh that Don Wright 
laugh, and you knew once again you’d been duped. I will miss being duped, 
and I will miss seeing that twinkle in his eyes. 


Cheri Staswick Niece of don-The one specific memory that I have has to do with his generosity.

I was going to Lutheran Bible Institute and it was during the last semester of my senior year.  I was working lots of hours while taking a full class load,  to try and pay off my college debt.  I can’t remember how much was left to pay, but a few hundred or so……..a lot of hours of work were still ahead.  Then I received a note from Uncle Don.  It said something along the lines of “Quit your job and enjoy the last months of school.”  Enclosed was a check for the full amount I owed.  What a mixture of feelings I had as I both laughed and cried…….thankful to both God and my dear uncle (and aunt). 


I know there were other times that I SHOULD remember, but that one stands out in my memory.  As God blessed him, he was quick to bless others.


David Son of Don -I believe it was right around 1973.  I was in the 8th grade playing football at Minnehaha academy.  Our team had not won a game all season.  My dads favorite president, Richard Nixon was in the oval office at the time and had contracted some phlebitis…blood clots.  Nixon made the term “phlebitis” popular.  My dad, out of sympathy pains for his hero was attacked by the same thing shortly after.  At that time, doctors put you in a cast from your ankle, all the way up to your groin.  So here I was ready for another loss, to be yelled at by my coach again, without dad to see me play.  Before we started the game, one of my buddies pointed and asked, “Who is that guy walking over on crutches with that big cast on?”  Well…it was dad…didn’t want to miss the game.  My friends thought that was so cool.  To top it off, on the sideline, he offered me 5 bucks for every time I sacked the quarterback.  I got five sacks that game, the coach only yelled at me six or seven times and best of all we won our only game of the season.  I take the importance of “Being there” for my children very seriously.  I learned it all that day in the 70’s at my football game.  Dad was there.  I know as he sits around that heavenly table with Mom, grandma, grandpa, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Roy Rodgers and John Wayne, that he is watching his kids, grandkids and great grandkids playing the game of life.  David.


Kassi Woods granddaughter 19 years old (Lori’s Daughter)-The thing I will remember most about grandpa is how no matter how much I told myself not to believe grandpas silly stories but I always ended up falling for his tricks. Like one time when I was younger he had me convinced that Tim was born with his ear on his forehead and had to have surgery to fix it. As usual he was making it up. I will miss grandpas sense of humor and his big belly laugh when he finally got ya.


Lori “True favorite Daughter” of Don – There are so many memories I have of dad and life with him. But the one thing that I have always been amazed at is my dad’s unbelievable ability to handle pain. Over the years as most people know dad suffered heart trouble, knee trouble, belly trouble, you name it dad had it. And he always dealt with it with minimal pain medication, often taking none at all, and coming out of whatever it was with flying colors to the amazement of doctors! He and mom were both amazing that way! When I was a kid I had knee surgery a few times. Dad was always there for me, coaching me through the procedures and helping me rehabilitate afterward. He had been through it himself so often that he knew the drill. I remember vividly him coming into the hospital room just hours after surgery and forcing me out of bed, making me walk even if it was only two or three steps, to get me moving. I remember him having me sit on the side of the bed bending my leg until I could touch his hand, each time inching his hand farther and farther down until soon, without me even realizing it my leg was all the way bent. And I also remember him, after those painful times, going out into the hallway and crying because he had had to put me through that pain. That always touched me so much, it made me realize that he was only doing what was best for me even though it maybe hurt him more then it hurt me. In fact he told this story shortly before he died to Rena, a friend from Grace, who had stopped by to visit one day. Even in his last days dad’s memories were of being with his kids, grandkids, and taking care of all of us. I will miss him everyday!

Steve Son in Law of Don (Lori’s Husband)– I think, for me, Don can be summed up by comparing him to the character John Travolta played in the movie Michael. Michael was an angel but he wasn’t your average angel. He was gruff, no nonsense, what you see is what you get kind of angel. But he was also extremely loving and protective of those he cared about. Don was the same way. He never pulled any punches and you always knew where he stood on everything. At the same time he had an amazing sense of humor, he loved his family, they were the center of his life. And he loved Jesus! He will be missed by all of us!

  Eulogy -Donald H. Wright was born May 26th 1936 in a little town in Minnesota called Waseca. He was the son of Harold and Margret Wright. He had 3 siblings, Sister’s Pat and Carol and brother Jim.

Don married Joanne Klawitter, the daughter of a Lutheran Minister, in April of 1956 during a Minnesota snow storm. They had five kids; Tim, Jeff, David, Lori and Lise.

Don spent most of his life as a financial consultant/insurance salesman. He was always open for a challenge including owning an Art School in Cleveland Ohio. He was a staunch republican and a lutheran often joking that only those who were republican, Lutheran, and drove Kia’s would get into heaven.

Don and Joanne were married for over 50 years when Joanne went to be with Jesus almost three years ago. On October 29, 2009 Don Wright closed his eyes and went to be with Jesus and enjoy that great reunion with all his loved ones that had gone before him. He is survived by his five children and their spouses, 13 grand kids and three great grand kids. He will be greatly missed.
These are just a few things that were said about my dad.  He was an amazing man.  And while there were many times that his stubborness and non waivering attitudes just drove me crazy, he was a man unlike any other.  I will miss him everyday!  I guess one of the greatest lessons my dad every taught me was how to love.  The way he loved my mom during the 50+ years they were married, and the way he took care of her during her last days was such an example to me of how marriage should be.  Even through their ups and downs (and they had many) they stuck together, holding on to one another and never giving up.  And in the end of her life he was there holding her hand, telling her how much he loved her and sharing stories with all of us of their life together.  The last thing dad said to me the night he died was “I love you and I will say hello to mama for you!”  And I have no doubt that when he got to heaven, after he hugged her tight, he looked at her and said “Joanne, the kids all miss you and send you their love.  They are all looking forward to the great reunion we will all have one day, here in heaven.  You, me, the kids and Jesus!”

2 thoughts on “Dad’s celebration of Life

  1. Cindy Holman says:

    This is so great! My husband in a Pastor that does “Celebration of Life” Gatherings full time – that and weddings – but he LOVES doing the memorials for families best of all. You have some lovely thoughts here – thanks for sharing.

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