James Wright, 86

James “Jim” W. Wright passed away on June 16, 2022. He was born March 26, 1934 in Merced, CA. He was the middle child of five children and grew up hunting, fishing, swimming (in the irrigation ditches) and learning lots of mechanical “stuff” from his dad.

James Wright

After graduating high school Jim joined the Navy where he was sent to service school for Machinist Mate. He was then assigned to the destroyer, McKean which briefly served in the Korean War. After four years in the Navy Jim went into the Navy reserves while he attended college. 

Jim attended Merced Community College with a focus on football. Then, in 1958, he received a full scholarship to San Jose State where he played football and took up boxing. He became the novice heavy weight boxing champion. When he left San Jose State, he received a letter from Vince Lombardi to come and play with the Green Bay Packers, but Jim wanted to fly, so he joined the Air Force instead.  

In the Air Force, Jim trained as a Navigator and was assigned to B-47s; then upgraded into B-52’s. In the B-52s, he functioned and flew as a Navigator/Bombardier, instructed new navigators, and later in his career was assigned as a strategic mission planner. He worked within the Strategic Air Command (SAC) for his 20-year career where he had about 6500 hrs. in the B-52 (780 combat hrs. with 61 missions over Vietnam). He retired with 28 years of military service in 1979. 

Jim was married to Billie Wright for 27 yrs. and had two children together. Jim was stationed throughout the US and in Guam and while in Guam, he was selected to lead a Japanese delegation to search for Japanese remains in the jungles. He was always very proud of that. 

After Jim retired in 1979, he opened the Wooden Nickel Antique Shop in Oscoda, MI which he owned from 1979–1993. He was amazing at woodworking and could repair/restore antiques to perfection.  

Jim and Cindy married in 1988 in Oscoda, Mi. Their first few years together involved competitive running and triathlons, along with organizing running races. 

In 1991, Cindy joined the Air Force and they moved to California. Jim worked on building an experimental aircraft (in their garage) and went to school to became a certified Aviation Maintenance Technician. In 1996, they moved to Maryland where Jim worked at a small grass strip airport becoming the go-to person for restoring fabric aircraft (Cub Cadet and PA-12). Then in 1998, they moved to the DC area where he continued working at an airport there. In 2004, they moved to Virginia when he used his skills to remodel their home.  

His long journey with dementia started in 2007 and ended with a peaceful flight to heaven. Jim and Cindy were blessed to have each other for 33 1/2yrs. 

Jim is survived by his wife Cindy, son Tim (Lori) Wright, daughter Tambra (Jeff) McGaw, grandchildren Micaela, Erica, Cavanaugh, and David (Kaelei), great-grandchildren Grace, Charleston, MacKenzie and his former wife, Billie Wright. He is also survived by his sister and brothers, Pansey (Walter) Gnehm, Bob (Janet) Wright and Ronnie (Donna) Wright. 

Jim will be missed but his family is left with true joy and beauty in his life and passing. His family wishes to thank you all for your friendship, love, and prayers. 

Jim’s celebration of going home will be Tuesday, June 21st at Lakepoint Community Church located at 1550 W. Drahner Rd, Oxford, MI 48371. Visitation will be at 10 with his service following at 11. All are in invited to join us for a luncheon following the service. Dress is summer casual, please be comfortable (Jim is wearing jeans). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to our church family at Lakepoint Community Church or our friend Pastor Samuel who established and runs Bethel Community Outreach in Uganda. Arrangements entrusted to Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, Oxford.

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