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Wright was a beacon of light at a tumultuous time
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On Tuesday, February 2, an icon of Newton County and a bulwark of Covington's African American community was laid to rest. Henry James Wright, III, Coach Wright, as he was affectionately called by all of those who had witnessed that contagious smile, felt the love and discipline that signaled that he truly cared and listened to his words of encouragement and followed the direction in which he attempted to channel each one of us is now departed. As a star passes out of our sight but it presence is indelible written in our memories.

Coach Wright gave the youth of this community, both black and white, the best of himself because to him they were merely "his students." I have known Coach Wright for over 40 years as a player, a friend, and mentor. I followed him through his glory and through an illness that took a toll on his body but that never quieted his spirit.

As he coached, so he lived. Face your opponent with your best effort, show no fear, and in the end whether you've won or lost respect yourself and your opponent for a job well done.

Coach Wright instilled this dogma in all of his players and students and we became better people because of our association with him. He did things for students that would fill the pages of books but will go unnoticed or unrecognized but it's etched in the hearts of those students.

His passing in the city of his birth and the city of his works should have been met with clarion trumpet sounds. But as it was in 1965, the year of his most formidable success, words of thank you for a job "well done" was again not forthcoming. You see as we congratulated those who had achieved that recognition it never came to him. There was no ride around the square, there was no news article to herald his accomplishments, there was no public acknowledgement from the school board and there no great coaching job forthcoming because those were the days of separate and "unequal". I am not being vindictive but merely stating fact as a 17-year old black youth in Covington at that time.

But through all of that, Coach Wright never forgot who he was what his purpose in life was. He realized that the final scorebook kept by that great scorekeeper wasn't dotted with 2s, 3s or 1s. The number of games that you had won was not recorded. Whether you were inducted into the Hall of Fame was not recorded. It only reads a life well lived and dedicated to serving God and your neighbors.
As captain of that 1965 State Runner-up team, I'll set the record straight and do history justice. We were not undefeated. Our record was 17 wins and 4 losses. We were not State Champions but State Runner-ups. What success we did achieve we attribute that to Coach Wright.

Covington will not be the same because that strong oak that never bent when the winds blew hard and never succumbed to the coldness of winter has now been harvested and removed from the forest. The forest now has a void because its most majestic tree is gone. I hope that Newton County establishes some type of memorial to honor one of its greatest citizens.