Community activist Dr. Francis Wright dies after battling cancer

  Francis Wright

Francis Wright, a former Homewood village trustee and dentist in Homewood, died Monday, Sept. 24, after a battle with cancer.

Wright, who was 92, is recognized for his many contributions to the community and the profession by helping to organize the dental hygiene program at Prairie State College.

His wake is scheduled from 1 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, at Tews-Ryan Funeral Home, 18230 Dixie Highway in Homewood. A funeral mass will be said at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 1, at St. Joseph Church in Homewood.

Dr. Wright received his doctor of dental surgery degree from Northwestern University and then served in the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1955. He got to Homewood when a friend directed him to an organization that linked him with a dental practice looking for a partner. In short order, he bought out the retiring dentist and established his practice at 18019 Dixie Highway.

He practiced dentistry in Homewood from 1955 to 1990. In 1966, he joined with two others to help organize the PSC Dental Hygiene Clinic. Today, students are trained under a fully accredited American Dental Association curriculum.

In 2017, Wright estimated more than 1,000 hygienists trained through the program, and some went on to become dentists, including two of his daughters. PSC honored Wright that year with its Pioneer Pillar of Community Award for his efforts.

Dr. Wright was active in the village first serving on the Homewood Library Board for six years. He was elected to the village board serving two terms from 1971 to 1979. He also was a member of the Plan Commission from 1971 to 1985.

He is to be honored in October with induction into the Homewood Hall of Fame.

A member of St. Joseph Parish, Dr. Wright served as vice president of the first St. Joseph Parish School Board.

Dr. Wright and his first wife, Mary, raised 11 children in Homewood. He remarried after her death in 1986 and is survived by his wife Marjorie, and children Deborah (Mike) Cook, Dr. Karen Wright O'Donnell, Vivian (Todd) Panagopoulos, Vernon Wright, Kevin (Machelle) Wright, Stephen (Allen Shechtman) Wright, Mary “Mickey” (Pat Burke) Wright, William “Bill” (Marie) Wright, Dr. Phranque Wright. His son James died in 1979, and daughter Catherine died in 2015. He had 17 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Dr. Francis Wright Scholarship Fund at the Prairie State College Foundation, Prairie State College, 202 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights, IL 60411.

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