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Greensburg man active in Little League brought passion and determination to everything he did

November 5, 2018 GMT

John Wright was born with a love of the game -- any game: basketball, golf, checkers. And he always played to win.

“He was kind of all-or-nothing, kind of full-throttle,” said his daughter, Jamie Puckett.

As a kid, her father played basketball until his hands bled. As an adult, he risked being stuck in sand or struck by lightning to collect balls on the golf course.

He brought that passion and determination to everything he did, Puckett said.

John E. Wright Jr., 73, of Greensburg, died Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018.

Born July 22, 1945, in Latrobe, he was the son of John Ellsworth Wright Sr. and Helen Lohr Wright. He was a graduate of Gettysburg College, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

Mr. Wright was active with the West Point Little League throughout his life, volunteering as an umpire and helping to manage field maintenance.

“He did a lot of work, hours and hours of work there,” said his son, Jack Wright. He described his father as an outgoing, “one-of-a-kind guy” who was a great storyteller.

Mr. Wright would often umpire back-to-back games on Saturdays, starting at 9 a.m. and working through to the evening, said his friend Bob Kalp, who coaches softball for Hempfield Area High School.

“He was liked by all, and respected by all,” Kalp said, adding that Mr. Wright would do anything for the Little League players.

“He’s going to be missed by the community,” Kalp said.

Mr. Wright coached Puckett, a softball pitcher, in her younger years. She said that his determination rubbed off on her. Starting at 8 years old, she was throwing 200 pitches each night and kept up the ritual until she was about 15.

“He was hard on me for a reason,” she said. “It suited me, and it really made me who I am.”

His coaching extended beyond the field, Puckett said. Her father, a retired vice president of claims for Old Republic Insurance in Greensburg, taught her to stand up to adversity and to treat others with dignity.

“You need to be able to talk to the president of the company as you would to the janitor,” Puckett said, describing one of the lessons he shared with her. “Show equal respect, and have something to say to both.”

Puckett said her father officiated her own softball games by the book and made her drive to work in the snow as a teenager. One day, she showed up to her job at Giant Eagle after a snowstorm and was greeted only by the meat department manager.

She was mad at her dad, but Puckett said his old-school attitude made her tough. She hopes to be able to impart the same lessons upon her own teenagers.

“No one is going to hand you anything,” she said. “And the victory is so much sweeter, because you earned it.”

He is survived by two children, Jamie Puckett of Lexington, Ky., and John E. “Jack” Wright III of Greensburg; a sister, Carole Kinard of Bridgeport, W.Va.; and two grandchildren.

Friends will be received 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Clement L. Pantalone Funeral Home, 409 W. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg, PA 15601.

Memorial donations may be made to Greensburg Hempfield Area Library, 237 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Greensburg, PA 15601.