Dr. Harold E. Wright

ELK GROVE, Calif. – On February 2, 2013, Dr. Harold E. Wright (Hal), the consummate music man, moved from creating beautiful music for us, to playing for those who preceded him.

Harold was born in 1916 and raised in Silver Creek, N.Y. He graduated from Fredonia Normal School in 1937 and “played his way to Europe” on the ship Beringeria. On returning to the USA, his first teaching position was at the Clarence High School where he met his future wife, Bette Clarke. He completed his Masters degree from Columbia in NY City, before joining the United States Marine Corps. He spent four years in the service and played in the Marine Corp band in Washington D.C.

After the war, he completed his Doctorate at Columbia and accepted a position at Northern Michigan Teachers College in 1948 as a member of the Music Department. Hal later became Head of the Department. During his tenure, he oversaw, moving of the department from the “attic” of the old Kaye Hall, to a brand new fine arts facility; two music camps for Upper Peninsula music students; and introduction of the “musical” to the theater in Marquette. Hal also conducted the Marquette City Band for 27 years; providing Marquette residents entertainment during the summers at the “Island,” Hal received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Northern Michigan University in 1993.

In 1992, Hal and Bette moved to Concord, Calif. Hal immediately sought out organizations to continue his love of music. He played piano for a ballet company and clarinet for the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra and concert band. He also played in a clarinet quintet entitled Fusion.

Hal’s life was dedicated to his family and the advancement of the arts, starting in Clarence, N.Y. in the late 1930s and not ending until his death. As one member of Fusion said, not only was it fun playing with Hal, but he also taught us all so much about the music.

Hal leaves behind his son, Geoffrey; daughters-in-law Vicki and Lorna; four grandchildren, Christopher, David, Alex and Patrick; and great-grandson Oliver.

Those of us remaining will miss Hal, his spirit, and his music, but we will aways remember his “Rhapsody in Blue” and know he is with those he loves, his wife Bette and son Steve in another place.

The family desires that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Hal’s name to the Contra Costa Chamber Orchestra, c/o CCCO Treasurer, 1760 Donesta Drive, Concord, CA 94519