By: Dr. Stephen McClatchie, Principal, Huron University College
Huron is greatly saddened by the death of Dr. Mary Wright, who passed away peacefully in Strathroy, Ontario on Wednesday 23 April in her 99th year.
An Honorary Fellow of Huron and past member of the Executive Board, Mary served the Huron community with great distinction and counted members of the Huron community among her many friends. She was drawn to Huron on many levels: as an Anglican, an esteemed academic who pioneered research in psychology, an individual committed to community service, and indeed through the friendships she sustained and expanded over the years at Huron.
At Huron receptions, convocations and Founder’s Day, Mary enjoyed robust conversation and continuing friendship in the company of a broad range of students, alumni, faculty, and staff in both faculties. She delighted in visiting the Department of Psychology each year to discuss current teaching and research, attended services in the Chapel, and read Huron academic and board reports diligently and with care. In her 90th year, she celebrated her birthday in grand style with family, friends and colleagues who filled the Great Hall at Huron.
Huron will be forever grateful for the generous support which Mary extended to Huron to advance education in the fields of theology and psychology. In 1991, the generous gift of Mary and members of the Wright family provided funds to establish The Dr. Mary J. Wright Psychology Centre, providing expanded classroom and research lab space. Ten years later, in appreciation of her generous gift, Huron established the Clark and Mary Wright Chair in New Testament Theology, named also in honour of her late brother. In 2008, Mary also established the Mary Wright Research Psychology Fund to support psychological research by Huron faculty and students each year.
Mary’s association with the Huron community was alongside her distinguished career at Western. Mary was the first female chair of a Department of Psychology of a major Canadian university and pioneered significant research in the field of child psychology. In 1973, she established the groundbreaking University Laboratory School at Western, serving as director of the school until her retirement in 1980. Among her many honours, Mary was recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal and the YMCA London Women of Excellence award in 2007. An active and devoted member of the Anglican Church, Mary was a member of St. John the Evangelist Church in Strathroy, where she continued to live in the Wright family home.