Emmett W. Wright Jr. passed away on August 26, 2019, in Orange, Virginia. He was born May 24, 1926, in Atlanta Georgia, the second child of his late parents, Emmett W. Wright Sr. and Frances Williams Wright.
One of the original “Buckhead Boys”, he graduated from North Fulton High School and upon graduation joined the U.S. Navy. Following his two-year stint in the service he entered Furman University from which he received his B.A. in History and where he met and married Betty Wilson Wright.
He subsequently received a master’s degree in History from Emory University and began what would be a lifelong and very successful career in education by accepting a position at West Fulton High School in Atlanta as an American History teacher and head varsity basketball coach.
In 1952 he joined the faculty of The Westminster Schools where for the next sixteen years he taught Advanced Placement American History, coached varsity basketball, and served as head of the Boys School. In 1967 he coached the Westminster Boys Team to the school’s only state basketball championship and was named head coach of the North Georgia All Star Team. In 1976 he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. There is an endowed mastership in his name at Westminster.
Instrumental in the creation of the Advanced Placement Program, he helped author the AP test in American History and served as an AP reader for many years. He is the author of the book, Political Leadership in America.
In 1968 he agreed to lead a comprehensive curriculum review for Woodberry Forest School in Orange, Virginia. Two years later he became headmaster of Metairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, Louisiana. In 1974 he returned to Woodberry Forest School as headmaster, a post he held until his retirement in 1991. During his tenure at Woodberry, the school enjoyed tremendous increases in its endowment and became the leading boys boarding school in the country. He was elected to the Headmasters Association and in 1991 received Woodberry’s highest recognition, the J. Carter Walker Award.
Imposing and charismatic, firm but fair, and frequently irreverent, he was the epitome of a headmaster. Committed to excellence and achievement and not suffering fools gladly, he always carried a special place in his heart for the boy who was more of a knucklehead than a student, perhaps because as he would freely admit he had been a knucklehead himself in high school. As one of his former students observed, “He knew how to empower young men to be their best.”
His sister, Sarah Wright Freeman predeceased him as did one of his sons, Robert Morris Wright, and one of his grandsons, Brian Alexander Wright. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, James Howard Wright and Elizabeth Wood Wright, of Charlottesville; his grandson and his wife, Andrew MacNaughton Wright and Constance Fleming Wright; his great-grandchildren, Sidney Fleming Wright, Sloane MacNaughton Wright, and Wilson Iredell Wright, all of Charlottesville, and a niece and six nephews.
His family is very grateful to the caring staff at Dogwood Village and to his many friends at Woodberry Forest, especially John Reimers; and Paul Huber, Tom Bond, and Dick Glover with whom along with Johnny Faulconer he enjoyed weekly cigar “smoke outs”. Burial will be private. A memorial service will be held in St. Andrew’s Chapel at Woodberry Forest on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, at 10:00 AM. Memorial contributions may be made to the Brian Wright Memorial Fund at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation, 112 Clarke Court, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903, or to a charity of choice.