- Mahlon "Lewis" Wright, Jr., 93, died Thursday, October 4, 2012, from Leukemia at the home of his daughter in Winter Haven, FL.
Born on March 11, 1919, in Sanford, Florida. He was the son of the Mahlon Lewis Wright, Sr. and Blanche Johns Wright.
Mr. Wright was preceded in death by his loving wife, Mary Riskis Wright. He is survived by his daughters Diane Wright Draper, Pamela Wright Burr, and Gail Wright Forbes, all of Winter Haven, and 2 Grandsons, Drew Draper of San Jose, California and Aaron Burr of Polk City.
Wright completed his grade schooling in Sanford, Florida, graduating from Seminole High School in 1936. He was actively engaged in the high school orchestra and band playing the violin and slide trombone. He was also a youth counselor at Boy Scout Camps in the summer. He was the Scout Master of two successive scout troops in Sanford in the late thirties and was an Eagle Scout with two palms.
In 1938, Wright organized and conducted an Audubon Bird Expedition to the Dry Tortugas where he personally banded over three thousand Sooty Tern juveniles for the Department of Interior. For at least sixteen years thereafter Wright received notices that his banded birds were found in many places in the Western Hemisphere.
From 1937 - 1939 he attended the John B. Stetson University in Deland, Florida, studying Pre-Med classes. Here he played the violin and viola in the Stetson Symphony, and the slide trombone in the Stetson band. He was inducted into the Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity at this time.
From 1941 - 1945 he served in the U.S. Naval Hospital Corps being Honorably discharged as an acting Chief Pharmacist Mate. He served two years in the Southwestern Pacific Theatre of Operations in the Navy Amphibious Corps. Returning to the United States he was active in the USN Amphibious training in Port Hueneme and San Diego for two years. He retired in October, 1945.
From 1945 - 1947 he directed a Seed Laboratory for W. Atlee Burpee Seed Company in Philadelphia, PA.
From 1947 - 1951 he attended the University of Florida and graduated in Entomology and Plant Pathology with High Honors. In 1951 he received an MS Degree at UF. He was inducted into the National Honorary Scholastic Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and the National Alpha Zeta Agricultural Fraternity. During these years Wright received and became active in a number of Agricultural chemical research programs for the Entomology Department as a Laboratory Assistant.
From 1951 - 1955 he was engaged in agricultural research in citrus and field crops over Florida, for Florida Agricultural Services Company. Later entering the Sales and Development for FASCO.
From 1955 - 1959 he was employed by the Florida State Board of Health as Entomologist to enforce the Florida Pest Control Act and Rules throughout the State of Florida.
In 1959, Wright was employed by a nationwide pest control firm as their manager in Winter Haven and Clearwater, Florida.
In 1970, he established his own private business in the pest management field, known as Wright Pest Control, Inc., in Winter Haven, Florida. His company was under the capable management of his daughter, Diane Wright Draper for many years. He sold the successful business in 2004.
During the past years, Wright has served as a Past Exalted Ruler of the Winter Haven Elks Lodge, was active in the Winter Haven Lions Club, and later in the Winter Haven Kiwanis Club, where he was recently recognized for 45 years of service. He was a past member of the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of 100. He was awarded Small Businessman of the Year. Wright was a Past President of the Florida Entomological Society, Past President of the of the National Honorary Urban Entomological Society, and Past President of the National Honorary Entomological Pi Chi Omega Society. He was a member of the Certified Registry of National Entomologists Advisory Board of Entomology at Florida A&M University. Wright was a past member of the Florida Pest Management Association, National Pest Management Association, and Associated Pest Management Association, along with the Royal Entomological Society of London. He served on the Board of the local Salvation Army, Keep Winter Haven Clean and Beautiful Committee, and the Tree Board of Winter Haven. He was a past member of the American Legion, a volunteer at the Winter Haven Hospital, and a Board member of the Audubon Nature Center in Winter Haven. He also served on a committee to establish a research chair at the University of Florida.
In recent years, Wright developed a passion for acrylic art painting.
Visitation will be Thursday, October 11th from 6 to 8 pm, at Ott-Laughlin Funeral Home in Winter Haven, FL. The Funeral Service will be Friday, October 12th at 10 am, at Hope Presbyterian Church in Winter Haven, FL. The Graveside (Veterans) Service will be on Saturday, October 13th at 11 am, at Rolling Hills Cemetery, Winter Haven, FL.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to either the Audubon Nature Center in Winter Haven or Good Shepherd Hospice in Auburndale.