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Willard Claney Wright

Willard Claney Wright ran his final race on November 30, 2023, at Enloe Hospital in Chico, California, following a hard-fought effort to recover from a minor stroke. The high hurdler was an alternate for the 1952 Olympic Games and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Redlands High School. He finished his degree in Physical Education in 1955 at the University of Southern California. The high hurdler was a 2x NCAA Honor Roll selection. He placed 2nd in the NCAAs in 1954 and was an Olympic alternate in 1952.

Will was born in San Bernardino, California, to Ruth Wright and Clarence Wright on March 8, 1932. They raised Will and his older brother Rively Jerome “Jerry” in Redlands, where Will began his successful winning track career at Redlands High School. Following college graduation, he was a United States Air Force member for three years. He and his first wife, Barbara Hensley, married in 1954 and made their home in Mt. Baldy with their sons, Will Jr. and Robbie. Will taught and coached at Montclair High School and later completed his teaching and coaching career in Westwood, California. In 1976, he married his second wife, Peggy Shuler. Will enjoyed serving his community for many decades with the area Rotary clubs and was president of the Westwood Club in 1988. Lassen School District Superintendent Hal Sinclair recently wrote, “When Will left to take on another path in life, he never knew what a hole he left in my life and the lives of his students at Westwood High.”

For the next thirty years after retiring from teaching, Will’s path in life included membership in Chester Lions Club, a passion for golf, a second career as a building and masonry contractor, and time enjoying his family and community. He was a stepfather and later “Grandpa Funny” to Peggy’s four children and their offspring and was known for always lending a hand — as well as his sense of humor and optimism — to his friends and neighbors when needed. His building projects included a new home at Lake Almanor and a native stone bridge at the third hole of the Lake Almanor West golf course; many homes and businesses in the Chester area enjoy warm hearths and beautiful walls that Will built. For many years Will and his family enjoyed an annual rhythm of winters in Cayucos, California, summer golf tournaments and building projects with his son Will, Jr., and time with family. After Will and Peggy moved to Chico, California, in 2020, he continued his dedication to serving his community by organizing a space at their retirement home for weekly Sunday Services.

Will is survived by his wife, Peggy; son, Will Wright Jr., sister-in-law Joann Wright and nephews Jeff, Tim, and Mark Wright; stepchildren Wendy McClure, John Shuler, and Heidi Shuler; and numerous “step” grand-and-great- grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Barbara Wright, brother Jerry, son Robbie, and stepdaughter Kristine Wilson.

The family expects to hold a Celebration of Life at Lake Almanor this summer.

3 thoughts on “Willard Claney Wright

  • Will was in the Rredlands high school hall of fame. Not USC.

    • Will is in the Redlands High School Hall of Fame. Not USC.

  • I enjoyed the pleasure of getting to know “Mr. Wright”, a kind, caring, witty and talented man. He was a positive influence and I am a better person for having known him.

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