May 21, 2024 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

‘No one believed in our kids and our teams more than he did’

Dan Wright loved life. 

He loved his family.

He loved his community. 

Wright passed away on March 19 in Florida. 

St. Joseph-Ogden Superintendent Brian Brooks said he would remember Wright’s love for his family. 

“When I think of Dan Wright, the very first thing that always comes to mind is how proud he was of his family,” Brooks said. “He always struck me as a very family oriented person.”

Brooks said that any time he saw Wright, he would always talk about his children—sons Marty and Mitchell and step sons Tyler and Jason. 

“He spoke about them with so much pride,” Brooks said. 

SJO Football Coach Shawn Skinner agreed that Wright was a family man through and through. He was also a huge supporter of the SJO football team. 

“What comes to my mind with Dan is how much he loved our school, communities and our kids,” Skinner said. “Having coached his youngest boys, Marty and Mitch, Dan was obviously a huge fan and supporter of the SJO Football program. But he was so positive and good to all of the players and coaches.”

Skinner said Wright was always quick to give a positive comment or praise to the players on the team. 

“When we won he was as happy as anyone and if we came up short he reminded us that we were SJO and there were going to be better days/games to come,” Skinner said. 

Wright not only loved SJO athletics but he loved the community he called home for decades and was always working to promote it in a positive light. 

St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce Treasure Susan McKinney said as president of the Chamber, Wright was always looking for ways to promote St. Joseph. He spearheaded the St. Joseph “Biggest Loser” competition and volunteered to run the annual antique show.  

“Dan stepped up to the plate and was chairman until we ceased running it,” McKinney said. 

A few years into his tenure as president,  Wright was nominated for the Chambers annual Citizen of the Year award. 

He declined. 

“He was a humble man and said he didn’t think he deserved for what little he had done,” McKinney said.  “It was a pleasure to work with him in the Chamber.  He was always a good-natured person and will be missed.”

Kathryn Olson worked with Wright at Longview Bank for six years. She said his positive attitude extended to his customers as well. 

 “I witnessed firsthand how knowledgeable and patient Dan was with his clients,” she said.  “Dan greeted everyone with a smile and entertained us all with stories about growing up in Champaign and adventures in parenthood with four boys.”

Olson said Wrights love of his family was evident. 

“He loved his boys and was always eager to share something funny one of them had said or provide the highlights of a baseball or basketball game from the night before,” she said. 

Skinner said Wright’s support of the athletic teams at SJO not only meant a lot to his sons but also their teammates. 

“He was a larger than life presence from the fan club to being just a fan to being a great father to his boys,” Skinner said.  “No one believed in our kids and our teams more than he did.”

Family friend Ginger Mohr said Wright’s love for life was evident in everything he did. 

“He did nothing halfway,” she said. 

Mohr said Wright loved planning events including bus trips to Cubs games. 

“If he knew there were rival teams, there was a game to play on our way up to the game,” Mohr said. “Dan wanted everyone to have a good time. He made sure most people walked away with some fun memorabilia. Because of his infectious personality, there was a waiting list for his events. This is just one example of how giving Dan was. He cared for people and didn’t know a stranger. He will be missed.”

Wright also served on the Prairieview-Ogden School Board.  Former Superintendent Vic White said Wright was a caring board member, who gave his all to the position. 

“He wanted to improve the quality of education and environment for the students,” he said. 

White said Wright was a fixture at sporting events and was always the first to help with fundraisers. 

“Dan had a wonderful personality and he was willing to help in any way possible,” White said. 

Darcy Nekolny, SJO FFA advisor, said Wright was always 100 percent supportive of the FFA. 

“When I needed someone to help with the greenhouse during the school day, Dan was one of the first to volunteer,” she said.  “He would gladly help customers and manage the FFA members who are working.”

Nekolny said Wright was always proud of his family and happy to share in their accomplishments. 

“There were many proud papas at this year’s banquet, but few father-son duos looked prouder and happier than Dan and Mitchell,” she said. 

Olson agreed that one of Wrights favorite things to do was help others. 

“I don’t think he ever turned down an opportunity to serve his community,” she said. “From the PVO school board to the SJO Chamber of Commerce and Spartan Fan Club, Dan was always the first to volunteer and lend a helping hand. He was such a special part of our community and I feel blessed to have known such a wonderful man.”

Brooks said Wright was always willing to help with anything the school district needed and his love of service as evident not only though that but his job at Longview Bank. 

“Add all of that with the countless number of people he served through his job at Longview Bank, and how highly people would talk about their experience working with Dan, and you start to realize how great of a man Dan was, and how much of a positive impact he had on so many different people,” Brooks said. “ Dan was a tremendous person in our community who was highly respected and was lost way too soon.  He will be missed by many.”

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