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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Tuesday, February 2, 2010 • Posted February 2, 2010

More Than a Mentor…

Born of

Retiring in 1990, he was ill for several years prior to his death at age 84 on the final day of 2009.

It was standing-room-only at College Station memorial services. Friends and loved ones ran the gamut from tears to laughter—the very way this man met life daily.

Junction-born and Ballinger-schooled, Wright cleared a bar set high. After all, he wanted to please his father, Felton (Pooch) Wright, who coached him in both high school and college.

A First Sergeant in the European Theatre at age 19, Bob filtered life through a prism of hard work and service to others, convinced that rules of the game and life are parallel….

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Someone mentioned

He was passionate about bringing out the best in others; this was a common theme at his service.

"He was as good a big brother as a little brother could hope for," said Donald (Bud) Wright of Del Rio. "He taught discipline, and we quickly learned he didn’t like sideline players to sit on their helmets," recalled Cleburne’s Darrell Miles. He shared that Wright treated all players equally and that his love for them was never doubted….

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Another former

Whether hyping a game before kick-off, addressing an athletic banquet, or teaching gangling freshmen in a college PE class, Wright’s emotions were never hidden.

Yep, even in PE classes. I was one of those "ganglers" more than 50 years ago who never doubted his sincerity, passion and belief in others….

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He was

His 18 years at Texas A&M included seven as recruiting director for Coach Emory Bellard whose teams went to four bowl games. The 11 years prior to his 1990 retirement were spent in the teacher education program.

An early A&M friend was then assistant coach R. C. Slocum, later a decorated head coach there. Theirs was an unending friendship that grew across the years. Slocum was a eulogist at the service….

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He recalled

They visited Slocum’s former college football teammate, Deputy Sheriff Theos Duhon. Duhon soon got an emergency call, and off he went.

Slocum and Wright left in their car, with Slocum at the wheel. He remembered that most downtown streets were one-way, but didn’t know that during the two years he’d been away, directions were reversed.

You can guess the rest. They collided head-on with Deputy Duhon. Both cars were totaled, as was a third parked car hit by the patrol car….

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"This was

Wright, peering through the driver’s window, was sure his friend was dead, then promptly fainted when Slocum regained consciousness. For years, other staffers asked them regularly if they had run into any deputies lately. (And this is no Aggie joke.)

Wright fought the good fight. He never had an agent and never was a big fish in a big pond. But, oh the ripples he made en route to a starry crown….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and author in the Metroplex. Inquiries/comments email to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

almost 40 years ago, long before seat belt laws," Slocum said. "But thankfully, we both were belted in."
a memorable recruiting trip. They were in Slocum’s hometown, Lake Charles, LA, where he had played football and later coached at McNeese State.
Assistant Executive Director of the Texas High School Coaches Association for five years, later inducted into its Hall of Honor. (He started coaching at Olney High School in 1949. Other stops were at Ballinger, Brownwood, Cleburne and at his alma mater, Howard Payne University.)
player was Jim Slaughter, now head football coach at A&M Consolidated High School. "He’s the reason I’m in coaching," Slaughter said. "I learned so much from him while a student at Ballinger High School. That it’s okay to cry. That it’s fully acceptable to say ‘I love you’ to others who aren’t in the spouse/girl friend/mom category. And when he said ‘son’—or even ‘son, son’—it was an expression of respect and endearment." Slaughter remembered that Wright also sometimes broke into song. One night, following a hard-fought win over nearby Coleman, Wright’s solo of "That Lucky Old Sun" wafted down the bus aisle on the ride home.
that he laughed whether a hat dropped or not. And tears flowed just as quickly.
respected teacher parents, imbued with a work ethic honed by the Great Depression and awarded the Bronze Star for World War II service, Bob Wright passed many of life’s toughest tests while still a teen. It’s little wonder that he touched many lives during a 40-year career in education.

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