Longtime Benton physician dies Friday

Funeral is scheduled Tuesday for a longtime Benton physician who died Friday.
The service for Dr. John D. Wright will take place at 2 p.m. at Benton's First Baptist Church, where Dr. Wright was an active member.
He was a deacon of the congregation and taught Sunday School there for 56 years.
Dr. Wright practiced medicine for 50 years and was on the active medical staff of Saline Memorial Hospital during that period.
Tonya Shelnutt, fourth-floor nurse manager at SMH, who worked closely with Dr. Wright, remembered him fondly today.
"He was the kindest, most caring physician and his patients loved him," Shelnutt said.
"The hospital staff loved him, too," she said. "You never saw him in a bad mood. He was so genuine. What you saw was what you got."
Shelnutt called Dr. Wright "a patient advocate," saying his patients were his top priority.
"He was very smart and intelligent and had the greatest rapport with everyone."
Sue Jackson, nurse manager over the SMH surgery and outpatient departments and the heart cath lab, also reflected on her association with Dr. Wright.
"He was so knowledgeable about every area," Jackson said. "He had such a dry humor and was always a pleasure to work with because of that.
"And he was wonderful to his patients," she added.
While medicine was the central focus of his life, Dr. Wright also was active in community life. He served many years on the Benton School.
He was born Aug. 15, 1925, in Saline County, and died at his home surrounded by his loved ones.
He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was discharged with the rank of junior grade lieutenant.
It was during the war years when romance entered his life, leading to his elopement with Jeana Merle White on March 22, 1945.
After his wartime service, Dr. Wright went to college and medical school through the V-12 Navy College Training Program and practiced medicine for more than 50 years.
Dr. Wright is survived by his wife; a brother, Joe C. Wright; three sons, Michael David Wright of Nacogdoches, Texas, John Tom Wright of Denison, Texas, and Dr. Charles Kent Wright of Fort Smith; two daughters, Mary Carol Wright of Benton and Phyllis Jean Edgin of Benton; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Burial for Dr. Wright will be at Pinecrest Memorial Park.
Pallbearers are Steven McGhee, Greg Edgin, Jon Edgin, Logan Denio, Samuel Cheeks,Tee Glasgow, Rich Tucker and Dylan Wright.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Ashby Funeral Home.
A complete obituary appears on page 3 of today's Saline Courier.