Walter L. Wright, Sr., former president of the Lake Union Conference and a veteran Seventh-day Adventist pastor and administrator, passed away in Dayton, Ohio, on April 15, 2009.
He was 74 and had retired in June 2008 as Lake Union president, a post he’d held since 2003. He had previously served the Lake Union as executive secretary from 1997, until his election as president. At the time of his passing, Wright was interim pastor of the Dale Wright Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germantown, Ohio, his boyhood home.
Coming from a strong family legacy of church ministry, and inspired by working with C. D. Brooks in public evangelism, Wright began his ministry as a lay pastor in his home church in Germantown, Ohio. His rich musical heritage and ministry experience traveling and singing with the Wright Family Singers, managing the Germantown Church Choir, and serving as the host of his brother Harold's live weekly television program on WHIO-TV in Dayton, Ohio, had a profound effect on his pastoral ministry.
By day, Wright was, in the early 1970s, a contract negotiator at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Known by his colleagues as "the preacher," Walter's desk was a gathering point for co-workers, and his superiors recognized him as the source of improved office morale. After several of his co-workers accepted Jesus and were baptized, Walter resigned his civil service position to enter full-time pastoral ministry. He continued to pastor full time, commuting between home and Andrews University in 1973 to attend the Seminary "smorgasbord style."
After completing his M.Div. at Trinity Theological Seminary, the country preacher was transferred to an inner-city church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the streets were transformed as drug addicts, prostitutes and criminal syndicate leaders accepted Jesus and became members of Walter's church. He then moved to Columbus, Ohio, and built the Ephesus Church while also serving as a pastor/evangelist and departmental director in the Allegheny West Conference. Walter was then called to be church ministries director and vice president of the Southwestern Union, in Burleson, Texas. Walter came to the Lake Union in 1997 as executive secretary, and became president in July 2003.
He and his wife Jackie (Cook), who survives him, had been married for 54 years and together have developed their "Marriage Maintenance Seminar." With a doctorate in psychology, a member of the Association of Adventist Family Life Professionals, and certified as a Family Life Educator by the National Council on Family Relations and Andrews University, Wright has conducted family seminars and evangelistic meetings in 16 countries on four continents. Before his retirement, he conducted two evangelistic series, one in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the other in Gary, Indiana.
He is also survived by sons Walter L. Wright Jr., David C. Wright, and Harold J. Wright II; daughter Lisa McDowell; 10 grandchildren; 3 great-grandchildren; brother William Wright Sr.; sister Eileen Lester; and a host of nieces and nephews.