It is with great regret that we report the sudden death at Bowling Green, Ohio, on Wednesday, September 17th, 1986, of Dr. Richard J. ("Rick") Wright, a very prominent figure in the field of Great Lakes marine history.
Rick's interest in lake shipping found its origins in the many summers which, as a boy, he spent at Conneaut, Ohio, which then was a very busy port. His interest took him aboard the steamers of the M. A. Hanna Company fleet when, as a young man, he laboured for five summers as a coalpasser and fireman. Specializing in the study of history, he achieved degrees from the Universities of Akron and Kent State.
He later served as a Professor of History at Bowling Green State University, and as such he found himself in a position to take an active part in the preservation of the history of lake shipping. He was founder and director of the Northwest Ohio - Great Lakes Research Center, which is now known as the Institute for Great Lakes Research, operated out of B.G.S.U., and in recent months he was much involved in the moving of the Institute to new premises near Toledo.
The Institute is very active in the preservation of written history, photographs and other material related to lake ships and their owners, and has placed much of its material on computer where it is readily available to researchers. As well, the Institute publishes the newsletter "Lake Log Chips" which has kept many shipping enthusiasts apprised of developments in the industry.
One of Dr. Wright's major achievements was his book Freshwater Whales, published in 1969, which outlined the history of the American Shipbuilding Company and its numerous predecessors. The history of the various lake shipbuilders was one of his prime interests over the years. He was a member of numerous marine historical groups and was a long-time member and supporter of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
Rick suffered a massive heart attack early in the month of September and, on September 17th, underwent quadruple bypass surgery at University Hospital in Bowling Green. Unfortunately, he passed away at 10 o'clock that evening, and the lake marine history field was thus deprived of one of its guiding lights.
To Rick Wright's family, and to his many friends and colleagues, we express our most profound sympathy. That he has been taken from us in such an untimely manner is a shock to all of us and a tragedy of the first order. He has, however, left us a priceless legacy in the fruits of his many years of work in the field which we all hold dear.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.