Ray Wright, a 90-year-old resident of Justin, put a suitcase in his car in May and pointed himself toward Florida. He drove the entire round-trip of 2,800 miles with a photograph of his late wife, Ada, in the passenger seat.
The destination was the National Senior Games for 50-year-olds-and-up. Wright is in the “and-up” part of the competition, in the 90 – 94 division. His events are javelin, shot put, discus, and long jump. He made the return trip to Justin, again with Ada, and a ribbon in each category. It was his fourth time participating in Nationals, after qualifying at the state level.
“I was never an athlete,” Wright said. “I’m a Canadian farm boy and the extent of my athleticism was milking cows and feeding chickens and pigs.
“Ada and I moved to Florida when I retired. I needed to stay active, so I took up tennis and bocce. Before long, a friend told me about senior sports, and I joined. My garage has quite a few gold, silver, and bronze medals in it.”
Nationals usually take place every two years but, perhaps because of the cancellation of the games during COVID, there will be another competition in Pittsburgh in 2023. Wright intends to get himself qualified and have another go at it.
Wright met Ada while in the military and stationed in Puerto Rico. He lost her a little more than three years ago.
“We were married 65 years, six months, and seven days,” he said. “I wanted her to make the trip with me and, yes, I talked to her along the way. I pointed out new buildings and developments. I like to believe she heard me.”
Somehow, it seems reasonable to believe she did.