The Massachusetts Senior Games just won’t be the same this weekend when hundreds of golden-agers converge upon Springfield College.
That’s because Dr. William W. Wright Jr. won’t be among them.
Dr. Wright entered a new arena in the clouds May 22 at the tender age of 79. I say “tender” because he was one of those guys who you thought could live forever. He hardly acted his age.
I can see him now, pulling up to the Springfield track with verve in his heart and dynamite in his legs. “Ready, set, go!” Out of the starting blocks he’d dash, burying his opponents in a cloud of dust in the 100-meter run.
A short time later, he’d rip off another victory in the 200 and wrap up his trifecta by blitzing the field in the 400-meter run. With three gold medals wrapped around his neck, he’d shake a few hands, and off he’d go, back to Haverhill. Simple. Clean. And efficient.
True, he competed against runners in his age bracket (75 to 79), but there was none finer than Billy in the state, perhaps all of New England.
Go ahead, call me a liar. I was there for most every one of his races. We had a pact going. I’d watch him trounce the sprint field and he’d cheer me on in the racquetball competition if our events didn’t coincide.
In most cases, we were the only two from Haverhill to appear in the state games. The field drew hundreds from across Massachusetts bent on promoting physical fitness and camaraderie. A gold medal was the added incentive.
I never did see his trophy room, but it must have looked like Emblem & Badge. Pity his devoted wife, Anna Mae. She probably did the dusting.
If I didn’t see him running laps and lifting weights at the YMCA, I’d catch him running the stairs at Haverhill Stadium. He’d start at the bottom and race upward as fast as his legs could take him — all the way to the press box. Then down and up — up and down like a turbine pumping.