County loses one of its beloved veterans

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County loses one of its beloved veterans Empty County loses one of its beloved veterans

Post by RunningLight on Thu 20 Dec 2018, 7:36 pm

Bruce Bel - Published on: December 20, 2018

County loses one of its beloved veterans George-Wright-e1545345405169

PICTON — Prince Edward County lost one of its most decorated and respected veterans when George Wright died in Picton at the age of 98 on Wednesday.
Born in Belleville in 1920 and raised in the County, Mr. Wright spent much of his youth working on the family farms at East and West Lakes until war broke out in 1939.
During the Second World War, Mr. Wright served with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment (Hasty P’s), until he volunteered in 1942 for an elite combat unit.
The First Special Service Force was an elite group of Canadian and American soldiers that is now recognized as the precursor to modern-day special force units such as Canada’s Joint Task Force 2 and the U.S. Army’s Green Berets.
Nicknamed the Devil’s Brigade, the unit played key roles in a number of missions including the Mt. Difensa and Anzio Beach battles in Italy. During the Anzio Beach mission, it is alleged a German officer called them the black devils in his journal because of their practice of blackening their faces with shoe polish before evening raids.
In 2015, the surviving members of the brigade were honoured with the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal for their service during the Second World War.
When the war ended in 1945, Devil’s Brigade members were told by their superiors to take their war secrets to their graves.
Mr. Wright obeyed the order for many years.
His daughter, Eileen Whittle of Oakville, said she and her four siblings really had no idea of what their father’s military service consisted of.
Upon completion of the war, Mr. Wright returned from England with his new wife, Kathleen. The pair were married for 70 years before she died in 2015.
“We really had no idea at all about his service,” Whittle said. “He worked for 10 years at Bata and then another 25 years with the Picton Police Department. It wasn’t until he wrote his book (The Road That I Have Traveled) that we started to understand that part of his life.”
At the Bata Shoe Company in Picton, Mr. Wright learned every job on the production line until he was promoted to the quality checker for the plant. After 10 years, he switched his clipboard for a badge and sidearm.
“I don’t think he would have ever left Bata, but they wanted him to take a position in Batawa and he wasn’t having any of that,” she said. “He was a County boy and he wanted no part of moving to Batawa. He joined the police force and eventually went back to school so he could become a detective sergeant.”
Mr. Wright was always in attendance at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Picton and, because of illness, 2018 was the first year anyone could remember him missing.
Veteran Mike Slatter said Mr. Wright was the perfect gentleman.
“Everyone had such a positive impression of him and you never, ever heard a bad word spoken about George Wright,” he said. “He saw a lot of things in his lifetime, but he just quietly went about his business and didn’t care for a lot of fuss. He’s going to be missed around here.”
Whittle said her father was able to care for himself until recent weeks when congestive heart failure forced him out of a seniors residence and into a local nursing home.
“We had a hard time believing he was as old as he was because he was making all his own decision right up until the end,” she said. “We are so proud of him and everything he accomplished in his life. He had so much strength and was so kind – he would never say something negative about anyone.”
Mr. Wright was the beloved father of Eileen Whittle and her husband Mike of Oakville, Lynda Simpson and her husband Jim of Port Dover, Edward Wright of Picton, Marilyn Nasadyk of Kamloops, B.C., Shirley Hardy and her husband Mick of England. Predeceased by his sister Lillian Dulmage and survived by his sister Maizie Barsley of Picton. He leaves behind many loving grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church at 2 p.m. on Saturday, January 12. A reception will follow to celebrate his life, love and friendship. If desired, memorial donations to St. Mary Magdalene Church, Picton would be appreciated by the family.
bbell@postmedia.com


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