University News

Obituary: Dr. Ken Wright, Namesake of WIU Wright House/Veterans Resource Center

September 30, 2022

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MACOMB, IL – A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at the Blandinsville United Methodist Church for Western Illinois University Honorary Alumnus Dr. Ken Wright, who passed away in Peoria Sept. 29. He was 83.

Dr. Wright, who was a longtime veterinarian in the Blandinsville region, and his wife, Betty, donated Wright's boyhood home at 333 N. Ward St., in 2007, to WIU for a new Veterans Resource Center. Wright attended the lab school – which was located in Simpkins Hall, just across the street from Wright's home – from third through 12th grade. After graduating, attended Western for two years before transferring to the University of Illinois, where he earned his degree in veterinary medicine. In addition to donating the Wright home to Western, the couple established the Kenneth T. and Betty L. Wright Scholarship at Western for qualifying students entering Western as freshman who graduated from a Hancock, Henderson or McDonough county high school.

In a 2007 story about the donation of the Ward Street residence, Dr. Wright said: "I was lucky to grow up around some well-known WIU figures. I remember sledding on the hill just north of the house, on university property, right across from Adams Street, and one of us would stand as a lookout for President Beu. He didn't want us sledding there and would chase us away, so when one of us saw him coming, we'd stop sledding until he was gone."

When he graduated with his doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1962, he came back to west-central Illinois to join the Blandinsville practice of Dr. C. M. Rodgers. When Rodgers retired in 1973, Ken purchased his current building on the east end of Blandinsville on Route 9 and was in private practice until 2017.

"We mourn the loss of Dr. Wright, and our thoughts are with Betty and the Wright family," said Brad Bainter, executive director of the WIU Foundation. "Ken was a wonderful man, and true friend and supporter of Western. He will be missed."

He was named a WIU Honorary Alumnus in 2019. A complete obituary and guest book can be found at

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