Longtime Palm Desert resident Bill Wright, an Army veteran and former district manager for Safeway, died February 8, 2017, at ManorCare in Palm Desert from complications of COPD and congestive heart failure. He was 88.
Bill—known to many as Papa—is lovingly remembered for his joy in being with family and friends, his kindness and generosity, his beautiful smile, his fondness for a tasty cocktail, his stylish attire, his amazingly lush white hair, and his appreciation for fishing (and a great fish story—many of which he told himself!).
William Homer Wright Jr. was born Nov. 25, 1928, in Plainview, Texas, the second of three children. The family moved to California in the early 1940s when he was a young teenager, and he graduated from San Fernando High School in 1946. During his teenage years, he began his long career with Safeway, where he would be employed for 40 years.
Bill was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951, and served during the Korean War. On Oct. 4, 1952, he wed Janice Wilis of Hanford, to whom he would be married nearly 50 years. After his wartime service, he resumed his career with Safeway, and the couple moved with the company from Marysville to Newhall before settling in Palm Desert in 1966. He was active in S.E.A.–Safeway Employees Association and was on the Board of Directors for the Safeway Credit Union for more than 30 years, serving as president for much of that time.
Bill was preceded in death by wife Janice in 2002. He leaves behind a daughter, Teri Armstrong, of Palm Desert; two granddaughters, Ashley Gallinger and husband James, of Parker, Colo., and Lindsay Armstrong and fiancé Aziz Sawaf, of San Francisco, and two great-grandchildren, McKenna and Connor Gallinger, of Parker, Colo.
A Celebration of Life to honor Bill is planned for 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church, 47-321 Highway 74, Palm Desert. Burial will be at Selma Cemetery in Selma, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Bill’s name may be made to the American Heart Association, PO Box 742030, Los Angeles, CA 90074-2030 (online at heart.org) or to a favorite charity.