Jean Godby Wright, 87, an Ontario, Calif., resident and former Belle Plaine home economics teacher, local businesswoman, civic leader and mother, passed away suddenly Oct. 10, 2017, from complications of pneumonia.
Jean was born July 6, 1930, on the family farm outside Earlham. She graduated from Iowa State University in 1952 with a degree in home economics education, and after doing her student teaching in Reinbeck, moved to Belle Plaine, where she began her teaching career and where she would meet her future husband, Belle Plaine businessman Richard (Flea) Wright. Together, they owned and operated Wright Auto Service, the local General Motors dealership and the only dealership in Iowa to have Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick brands in a single location under a single owner.
After selling the dealership and starting a family, Jean returned to teaching, a career that spanned more than 30 years and earned her many accolades. While still teaching and raising two sons, Robert (Bob) and Alan, she returned to college, earning her master's degree in nutrition science from the University of Iowa. She also made her mark as a local volunteer and civic leader, donating countless hours as an emergency medical technician for the Belle Plaine Area Ambulance Service, as a member of Rotary and as a member of multiple other local groups and organizations. She served several years on the Belle Plaine Parks and Recreation Board, on the City Council and even ran for mayor in 1982.
Shortly after the death of her husband in 1981 and before she retired from teaching, Jean reinvented herself and started a new career as a business owner, opening a successful fabric and drapery store called The Cloth Shop with her longtime friend and business partner, Florence Lyman. The store later was converted into a full-service carpet, flooring and drapery business called Classic Interiors.
After selling the business, Jean began spending winters in Palm Desert, Calif., where she and her brother and sister-in-law, John and Jan Godby, both owned second homes away from the cold Iowa winters. In Palm Desert, she made many new friends and continued her tradition of volunteerism in the emergency department of Eisenhower Medical Center in Palm Springs.
In 2013, she made the decision to move full time to Inland Christian Home in Ontario, Calif., to be near her son, Alan.
Jean is survived by her son, Alan (Angela) Wright, Chino Hills, Calif.; her daughter-in-law, Arlene Wright, Waterloo; grandchildren, Johnathan (Megan) Wright, Waterloo, Richard Wright, Redwood City, Calif., Jeremy Wright, Charleston, S.C., and Alicen Wright, Nashville, Tenn.; great-grandchild, Titus Robert Wright, Waterloo; her brother John (Jan) Godby, Des Moines; and her sister, Mary (Jim) Ray, Lincoln, Neb.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard (Flea) Wright, in 1981; and a son, Robert (Bob) Wright, in 1996.
Visitation will be Friday, Oct. 20, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Hrabak-Neuhaus Funeral Service, 1704 Seventh Ave., Belle Plaine, IA 52208. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, at the funeral home. Final resting place will be Oak Hill Cemetery, Belle Plaine.
A California memorial service will be Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m. in the Friendship Center at Inland Christian Home, 1950 S. Mountain Ave., Ontario, CA 91762.
Memorial donations can be made in Jean's honor to Inland Christian Home (address above).
Funeral arrangements are being coordinated by Hrabak-Neuhaus Funeral Service, Belle Plaine.
Online condolences may be left at www.hrabakfuneralhome.com.