Martha Wright, 78, of Newtown, died June 25, at Yale Hospital, following a decade-long fight with scleroderma induced pulmonary arterial hypertension. She was born in Knoxville, Tenn., and attended schools in Knoxville and the University of Tennessee.
Years later, when the last of her four children had graduated from high school, she returned to college and earned a master's degree in geology from Western Connecticut State University.
She worked 11 years for the Newtown Health Department and five years for the Wilton Health Department as a sanitarian. Her job included environmental issues as well as reviewing and approving engineering plans for well and septic systems and inspecting their installations.
Mrs Wright grew up in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and had a lifelong passion for the natural environment and open space preservation. When a large local development was proposed, she organized a neighborhood community open space preservation group. As a result, the eventual development was only about half the size originally proposed and did not include scenic Cavanaugh Pond, which she secured for the Newtown Forest Association (NFA) land trust. She later served on the NFA board of directors for 27 years and as a past-president. She also was chairman of the town's first open space task force and served on the town's conservation commission.
As a geologist and member of the Geological Society of America, Mrs Wright went on backcountry geological field trips in New Zealand, Iceland, South Africa, and the western states, including rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon from Lee's Ferry, Utah, to Lake Meade, Nev.
Her interests were many and varied. As a student of the late sculptor Jean Mann, she carved and sculpted porcelain and painted in water colors. She was a licensed glider pilot, having served as secretary of the Nutmeg Soaring Association. Mrs Wright enjoyed gardening, hiking, and especially traveling. With her husband, James, an airline pilot, she traveled extensively in Europe and Asia.
Her religious faith was an important part of her life. She was a member of Black Rock Congregational Church in Fairfield, where she sang in the choir as well as the choir of the Church on the Square in The Villages, Fla., until declining health made it difficult.
Her husband of 58 years,ÃÂ James Wright; daughters, Kathryn Wright of Milton, Ga., Christa Lopez and her husband, Mark, of Tiburon, Calif. and Kary Argel and her husband, Buddy, of Woodbury; son, Robert Wright of Asheville, N.C.; and nine grandchildren survive her.
A memorial service is planned for Saturday, July 21, at 1 pm, at Honan Funeral Home, 58 Main Street, Newtown.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Newtown Forest Association, P.O. Box 213, Newtown CT 06470.
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