On Wednesday, December 11, our beloved “dear heart,” Barry Allen Wright, left this earth after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Barry was born on the Fourth of July in Tuscaloosa, Alabama – we think that gave him his American pride, Southern charm, and love for the Crimson Tide. He was the sixth of seven siblings – we think that gave him his faith in God, “can-do” attitude, survival skills, and wacky sense of humor.
He grew up in the New Market and the Riverton areas, graduated from Arab High School, and received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UAH, where he was in the Sigma Nu fraternity. When he was young there were years the family was poor enough that we had to “grow it or shoot it” to eat, but the household was full of love, laughter, and music. Barry learned to play the trumpet, and often practiced while the rest of the siblings worked on clarinet, French horn, and drum skills (before there were noise-cancelling headphones). Later, he picked up the baritone and guitar, and spent some of his best times with his son Sam, singing, listening to Sam play guitar, and talking late into the night.
Barry was an engineer by trade, with his last career stop at Cornerstone Detention Services. When he was younger, he wanted to “make stuff fly or blow stuff up,” but at work (which was so fun, he called it “play”), he wanted to “make stuff better.”
In his free time, he enjoyed hiking; dancing; boating; fixing stuff for family and friends; working in his garden; traveling; and going to recitals, church, football events, and academic events for and with Sam. He was a home grill master and pastry chef.
But people were most important to him: family, friends, and strangers. He met his beloved, Patricia Wilkens, in early 2016, dancing West Coast Swing. He went to small music venues to see local musicians and talk and laugh with friends. He was a favorite uncle, making super-sized bubbles, tutoring math, and playing goofy pranks. He tubed, surfed, and jet-skied with friends and family on the Tennessee River. He attended Asbury Methodist church, but often said he felt closer to God when exploring nature.
He traveled with his son, Sam, to Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Italy. He traveled with Patricia to Sedona, Japan, and Iceland. He traveled with Sam and siblings to Alabama football games, including a trip with Sam, siblings, and a nephew to the Duke game in Atlanta this last August. In all those places, he never met a stranger because he always wanted to learn someone else’s “story.” At the end, his guardian angel probably had to say, “son, you done wore me out.”
A few weeks ago, Barry said he was “ridiculously blessed” to have been able to do so much while fighting his battle. The rest of us have been ridiculously blessed to have had him in our lives.
Barry was greeted at the Pearly Gates by his parents, Vernon and Catherine Wright; nephew-in-law Greg Campe; friend Ben Trussell; and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins.
His surviving family includes his cherished girlfriend (and chief caregiver), Patricia Wilkens; his son, Samuel Wright; his step-daughter, Katie Erwin (Andy); his siblings: Rebecca Boyd (Jim), David (Lisa), Donald (Jessica), Paul (Lee Anna), Rachel Hooper, Dale (Wendy). He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews: Kristen Mayhall (Colton, and little Cayden “Bear”); Kaylyn, Megan; Lauren Purcell (Parker), AJ (Ellen), Adrianna, Ashley, Annalise; Lindsey Kelly (Kyle, and seven-year old Jackson Campe), Brian, Billy Hooper, Catherine Hooper, Christian Czarnecki (Kenny), and Laura Catherine; and step-grandchildren: Jonah, Addison, and Willie. He is also survived by his first wife (Sam’s mother), Jennifer Alcorn (William).
Visitation is at Legacy Chapel Funeral Home at 16 Hughes Road, Madison, 35758 on Saturday, December 14, 2019 from 3:00 to 5:00. A celebration of life follows in the Legacy Chapel at 5:00, with a gathering following.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions might be made to the Microwave Dave Music Education Foundation (http://www.microwavedavemef.org/support.html), the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (https://www.pancan.org/), or the charity of your choice because so many causes were special to Barry.