VILLA GROVE – Robert L. "Bulldog" Wright, 90, of Villa Grove died Sept. 17, 2014, at Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana.
He was born Dec. 1, 1923, in Zion, to Edward and Zula Wright. He married Helen E. Pearsall on April 3, 1942. He married Laverne Ezell on June 7, 1980.
He played for the Green Bay Packers farm team before entering the Army Air Corps in 1943. He served in Africa during World War II, later in Europe from 1953 to 1956 (France and Germany). Early in his military career, he was a Golden Glove boxer. He retired from the Air Force in 1963 as a senior master sergeant.
After retirement, he went to work for the University of Illinois in Urbana. He worked as a store keeper and later transferred to the Rehabilitation Center where he worked with the wheelchair athletes. He traveled both nationally and internationally to promote the program. He then took the position of superintendent of Memorial Stadium until he retired on Sept. 1, 1988.
His many accomplishments include: induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, April 1983; induction into the National Wheelchair Basketball Hall of Fame; working with 16 NATO nations in planning the Conseil International du Sport Militaire games in Stockholm in May 1954; officiated championship football, basketball and baseball in the Big Ten conference; worked with and toured overseas with the UI Rehabilitation Center Wheelchair Sports Program in basketball, football, track and field. He was president of many official athletic associations with certifications in four sports. He officiated European championships along with international games in Egypt, France, Sweden, Luxembourg and South Africa. He served as an alderman on the Villa Grove City Council for many years.
He was a life member of the Villa Grove Lodge for the Masonic Order. He obtained his 32 degree Scottish Rite Mason. He was a life member of the VFW serving as a past president. He was a life member of the Rotary serving as past president. He was a life member of the loyal order of the Moose.
He is survived by his children, Mary E. Phillips of Urbana, Elizabeth A. Howard of Milwaukee, William E. Wright of Nashville, N.C., and Walter "Bub" Ezell of Villa Grove; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, parents, one son, four brothers and one sister.
Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, at Joines Funeral Home, Illinois 130 South, Villa Grove, with Pastor Duane Piercy Officiating. Burial with military rites by the Villa Grove VFW Post 2876 will be in the Villa Grove Cemetery.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the funeral home. Masonic rites by the Villa Grove-Camargo Masonic Lodge No. 885 will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the funeral home.