On January 25, 2024, Eugene “Gene” Howard Wright, II, 70, passed peacefully in his sleep in his favorite place in the world, home, with his family by his side.
He was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, living briefly in West Virginia, and Delaware before his family settled their roots in Churchville, Virginia (Augusta County). He spent his summers playing softball, riding his motorcycle, playing horseshoes, blaring music, and getting into mischief with his siblings, and his Puffenbarger fam. He graduated from Robert E. Lee High School (Staunton, Va) in 1971, and studied Business at Madison College (JMU, Harrisonburg, Va).
In 1972, he met the love of his life, Carolyn “Darlene” Houff Wright, high school sweethearts who were crazy about each other. On May 17, 1975, they married, and created a wonderful life together, sharing in over 48 years of marriage. They were together until his last breath, the love of a lifetime. They rarely spent a day apart, raising an incredible family: making memories together on countless family vacations, celebratory birthday gatherings, family holiday traditions, debating sports/politics/cars (you name it), and relishing in the quiet moments spent together. He had a hand in not only designing, but building every home the family lived in, including his final resting place. His handiwork surrounds us and reminds us of his genius and strength.
Gene was a loving father to two children, Jason and Tiffany, who he often referred to as his “pride and joy”. He never hesitated to share how proud he was of them, right up to his last days. In their eyes, there was nothing he couldn’t do. If they needed something built, he’d whip it up in the garage; if the car was making a funny noise, he’d have it diagnosed and parts on the way to fix it. He instilled in his children his incredible work ethic, fierce independence, and the knowledge of a lifetime. Not a single person ever questioned his love and dedication to his children; he was at every ball game hootin’ and hollerin’ for his kiddos, and yes, sometimes even to their embarrassment. But he knew how important being present was, and there was nothing more important to him than being a father.
Well, maybe that was until the grandbabies came along, Alexis, Landon, Caleb, AnnaBelle, and Charlotte - he owned his granddaddy title with all his might. He soaked in their sweet smiles, their sass, their incredible wit, and loved them the way a grandparent should. He always greeted them with a smile, was always up for a ride on the tractor, and never hesitated to spoil them with their favorite treats; bound to never let their parents’ eye rolls stop him for a second. Proud was an understatement about how he felt about them.
For over four decades, when he wasn’t at home with his family, he was running circles around Kroger, where he loyally worked for 46 years. He meant business when he was there, dutifully building displays, balancing orders and inventory, and going above and beyond for his customer service. He was always willing to lend a hand, or a smile to those he encountered. Chances are if you’re reading this, you have a story to share about Gene at Kroger, truly an icon and beacon of dedication.
Gene lived his “dash” to the fullest, and lived life on the edge (sometimes on the edge of his poor mother’s and wife’s nerves). From bringing home a rocking chair on his motorcycle, carting a sick cow to the vet in his car, to waving hello to visitors from the rooftop, you just never know what project he was up to next. We often joked as a family that he lived more than nine lives, and have countless memories and laughs to bring us joy in the sorrow.
He was proceeded in death by his grandparents, whom he loved dearly, Margaret and Earl Wright, and Hazel and Solomon “Earl” Puffenbarger; his loving mother and father, Anita Fay and Howard Eugene Wright; his brother-in-law, Jeff Goldberg; and two very special uncles, Norman Puffenbarger, and Carl “Butch” Puffenbarger.
He is survived by his wife, Darlene Wright, his son, Jason (Teresa) Wright, his daughter, Tiffany (Chris) Severs, his precious grandchildren, Alexis and Landon Wright, and Caleb, AnnaBelle, and Charlotte Severs; his siblings, Lynne D. Wright of Harrisonburg, VA, Teri Wright Goldberg (widow, Jeff Goldberg) of Ruckersville, VA (children, Aaron and Megan Goldberg), and Eric D. Wright (Elizabeth) of Austin, TX (son, Adam); and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family, and close friends.
Gene loved New Hope, and the community that he raised his children in, and now his children are raising his grandchildren in. He was the kind of guy that supported his children endlessly; like when his daughter played on the first ever girl’s softball team and they kept getting “kicked off the field” for practice, he built a backstop on his property, so the team always had a place to practice. He was that kind of man, and we ask as a family that you donate (in lieu of gifts or flowers) in his memory to the:
New Hope Ruritans, PO Box 24, New Hope, VA 24469
We find peace in knowing Gene was a devout believer, and is whole in the arms of Jesus. We picture him on the beach in his hat and sunglasses, enjoying the sea breeze and waves lapping.
The family will not be having a family night, but will host a celebration of life service at New Life Baptist Church, on Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 2:00 p.m., located at 691 Battlefield Road, Fort Defiance, Virginia.
Coffman Funeral Home and Crematory, 230 Frontier Drive, Staunton has been entrusted with arrangements.