Garth Wright Obituary
Garth Kingsley Wright of Chatham was born April 9, 1931 in the family home at 75 Cross Street to the late Charles Frederick and Jane (Austin) Wright. He was raised in Chatham, with summers spent at grandfather Charles Austin’s cottage in Erie Beach. Garth attended Central Public School and CCI, graduating from the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture and becoming Assistant Horticulturist at the Department of Botany, University of Toronto.
Garth returned to Kent County to establish Riverdale Nurseries Garden Centre and Landscaping in an empty field on Highway 2 in Chatham Township. His business introduced several new plant varieties to the area, including colourful Rhododendron, Azalea, and Redbud, and his landscaping endures throughout the municipality. Following retirement, he drove for Russell Brown Pharmacy, helped at his son’s photo store, volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Christ Church Soup Kitchen, and opened his home to several foster children and sponsored children abroad.
He was organist/choir leader at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and Providence United Church before becoming organist at Christ Church Anglican for 50 years. Following retirement from the keyboards, he continued to be active in music as a member of the choir at Christ Church, the Chatham Kent Chorale, and playing his own piano. Garth treasured music, and was practicing Bach and Beethoven until several weeks ago.
A love of photography, painting, and filmmaking recorded a life of many adventures and memories. Garth travelled through Europe several times, visited the Holy Lands in Israel, explored Canada from Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains, and visited many American natural wonders. His passions always included helping others, such as mission work in Brazil, Grenada, Haiti, and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Camping, hiking, canoeing, and hearing the loons call at Lake Superior Provincial Park with family held a special place in his heart. Last year he was still seeking adventure, camping at Tobermory, Pinery, and Point Pelee, and giving his walking stick a workout.
The place Garth loved most was Erie Beach, where he lived in “Cobble Lodge”, the family cottage, every summer. When it became his own, he winterized it and moved in year-round. He wrote the book, “100 Years At Erie Beach,” to document its history and his many memories of 83 years there. His gardens were a progression of flowers and colour through the season – a palette of his unique ideas and exotic plantings. When not tending the grounds, he could be found swimming or canoeing in the lake, playing golf or tennis, building projects, or just well-deserved lounging on his beach.
Most of all, Garth loved his family and friends – his son Austin (Alisha), Harrisonburg, Virginia, daughter Deborah – his Debbie (Justin) of Kitchener, and son Robert (Sara) of Windsor, and their mother Jean Powers; also Cameron Durward and Catherine Wright. Grandfather of Alexander (Laura), William (Joshua), Victoria (Kody), Stephanie, Emily (Tyler), Rowan, and Nathaniel and his brother Connor. Uncle to Scott, Garth, Keith, and Lynn MacMillan, Rob Wright, and Lori Karpow; also to Karen Leite, Arin Tomarkin and Ryan Tomarkin, and their father Wally (Jan).
Garth passed away peacefully into Eternal Life on Thursday July 27th, 2023, in his 93rd year. He joins brothers Flying Officer Charles Austin Wright, Keith Pearson Wright, and sister Joyce MacMillan. The family wishes to extend their sincere gratitude to the nurses, doctors, and caregivers at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Community & Home Assistance Program (CHAP), and nephew Garth MacMillan for his companionship.
Family and friends are invited to the Alexander & Houle Funeral Home at 245 Wellington St. West, Chatham, on Wednesday August 2nd, with visiting from 7:00 to 9:00 PM and Thursday August 3rd from 12:00 to 1:00 PM at Christ Church Anglican, 80 Wellington St. West, Chatham. Celebration of Life will follow at 1:00 PM with Rev. John Maroney officiating, and interment in the family plot at Maple Leaf Cemetery. Friends planning an expression of remembrance are asked to consider World Vision Canada, Nature Conservancy Canada, or planting memorial trees. Arrangements entrusted to the Alexander & Houle Funeral Home, 245 Wellington St. West Chatham, 519-352–2710. On-line condolences may be left at www.alexanderandhoulefuneralhome.ca
Class of 1956 back left- right: Doug Griffith, Don Cherry, Fred Daubert, Russ Ferguson
front left-right: Frank Purkis, Graham Bowen, Garth Wright, John Church