A generous spirit mourned Mary Wright: 1933-2007

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FARMINGTON – She had a fantastic sense of humor, was known for doing people favors on the sly, and made the town’s welfare one of her top priorities during her three decades of involvement.

Mary Wright, the much-loved chairwoman of Farmington’s Board of Selectmen, died Sunday at 73 at Franklin Memorial Hospital from complications relating to pulmonary fibrosis.

Town officials and selectmen, friends and family said Tuesday she will be sorely missed.

“I look back to enjoying and just considering going to our meetings every two weeks fun,” Selectman Charles Murray said Tuesday. “We had a good time doing our job, and everyone got along. Mary had a wonderful sense of humor and made all that possible.”

“She probably ruffled a few feathers along the way,” Town Manager Richard Davis said of Wright, who served on the board for a total of 14 years, starting in 1978. She served until 1981, and then again from 1995 until 1996. She was re-elected again in 1997 and served on the board without leaving ever since, he said.

“The great thing about her, was you always knew where she stood. It’s a great way to do business. She was always very honest and down to earth. And she always kept the interests of the taxpayers in her mind.”

Wright was known for being opinionated, but she always made sure to be nice, and to have fun, even with people she disagreed with on political issues.

“She just had a nice way about her,” Davis said. “She was never too busy to take time to have cake.”

Wright started the Farmington custom of eating cake at mid-selectmen’s meeting and sharing it with audience members, Davis said.

“She and I have been on the selectboard together for eight years and have become great friends,” Murray said. “It’s a real loss, particularly to the town.” She was extremely dedicated to the town’s welfare, he said.

“She was always there, and always very willing to share her thoughts and recommendations, and a great deal of the time she was right on the mark,” Selectman and County Sheriff Dennis Pike said.

Wright’s two children, Susie Robbins of Falmouth, and James Wright of Westbrook, remember their mother as having an unbelievably generous spirit. As someone who loved to laugh, many of her acts of generosity were done with a bit of mischief.

“She liked to do things without people knowing,” James Wright said. “One story I think I’ve told before is that going through a tollbooth, she liked to give $10 so the next 9 cars could go through for free. Then she’d speed up so no one would know what she looked like.” Wright laughed, remembering.

“I mean, she was known for paying some people’s bills – vet bills – without them knowing, because she loved animals.”

Wright was also generous in the day-to-day, Susie Robbins said. “She loved spending summers (on the Cape),” she said. “She grew up in Falmouth and those are some of our favorite memories. She loved sponsoring dinners and family potlucks. And she had a great sense of humor and loved sending e-mails. She just loved making people happy.”

She was known around town for baking delicious Christmas cookies, Robbins said, and baked for the town office, the auto body shop that took care of her car, and the people at the post office.

“Even though she grew up on the Cape, Farmington she considered her home. She was very adamant that Farmington was her home.”

Linda Grant, the town secretary, sniffled a bit when remembering Wright Tuesday. “She was a great boss and a wonderful friend,” she said. Wright would come in and chat with her every Friday, and they talked or e-mailed frequently each day.

“She e-mailed notes, mostly jokes, to the point of distraction,” Grant said. “She had some really good ones.” Wright, who taught in Leeds for 30 years, got some of the jokes from former colleagues, Grant said.

“She’s just a very warm and affectionate person,” Grant said. “If she liked you, boy watch out. She liked me. I am devastated.”

“When you talk to someone daily – and sometimes two, three times a day – it’s a very large void in your heart,” she said.

Everyone who knew her is still shocked by her death, Murray said. “I knew she was sick but you never expect someone like Mary to die,” he said.

Wright leaves behind her husband, Richard, her daughter Susie Robbins, son-in-law Bill Robbins, and grandson Eliot Robbins, all of Freeport; and her son James Wright, daughter-in-law Kimberlee Wright, and grandson Geran Wright, all of Westbrook. She also leaves a sister, Nancy, who lives in Massachusetts.

A remembrance gathering will be held in her honor downstairs in the Community Center at 2 p.m on Friday, Davis said. Family, friends and selectmen will speak.

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