Teresa Mullen (“Terry”) Wright, formerly of Newton, N.J., passed away on Saturday, June 6, 2020, from complications related to COVID-19. She was 93.
Daughter of May and William Mullen, Terry was born in Leonia, N.J., on Oct. 7, 1926, the third of four children. She grew up through the Great Depression and developed an astounding ability to make the most of whatever opportunities life presented and to overcome, with the same spirit, whatever challenges life put in her path.
An accomplished musician and scholar, Terry attended Douglass College (then New Jersey College for Women) on full scholarship. In 1949, she married John Ivan “Jack” Wright of Newton, a World War II veteran who served in North Africa and Southern Italy. She and Jack lived in Newton and had seven children, John Keith, Kevin, Timothy, Colleen, Patrick, Pegeen, and Terence (Ted).
Despite suffering tremendous personal loss, especially seeing four of her sons predecease her and the loss of her husband nearly 50 years ago, Terry maintained strength, generosity, and good humor, and continued to work for and support her children in every possible way. Jack’s death after a long and painful struggle with pancreatic cancer left Terry without any insurance policy, savings, or pension benefits to fall back on. But she remained a selfless giver in the ensuing years, caring for her mother and two of her sons, Keith and Ted, until their passing. Terry was also a surrogate mother to a legion of her children’s friends and relatives needing a good meal, a warm bed, and loving acceptance.
Long-time residents of Newton may remember her as a beloved kindergarten teacher of almost 30 years, and devoted caregiver to her son, Ted, who was born with Downs Syndrome. Ted lived with her until his death in 2010. As a dedicated public school teacher, she was proud to work with the Newton Education Association to advocate for teacher rights and benefits. She also played an instrumental role in work that led to the extension of health benefits for disabled children.
Terry instilled a tremendous love of music and a passion for learning and social justice in all her children. Colleen, Patrick, and Pegeen find solace in knowing that she has returned to the loving arms of “Jack and the boys” and her mother, May Mullen, whom she talked about so often these past few years, and that the profound grief she experienced at their passing is now transformed to comfort and joy.
Terry was predeceased by her husband, Jack, in 1971; and four sons, Tim in 1989, Keith in 2004, Ted in 2010, and Kevin in 2016.
She is survived by her daughter, Colleen Wright Lippert and husband, Maurice Lippert, of Newton, Patrick Wright and wife, Zoya, of Fort Lee, N.J., and Pegeen Wright and husband, Charles Hubbard, of Belmont, Mass.; daughter-in-law, Deborah Powell, widow of Kevin Wright, of River Edge, N.J.; grandchildren, Ivan, Ben, and Anna Wright (Kevin and Deborah’s children), Cody and Caley Mikesell (Colleen’s children), Jack Wright (Patrick’s son), and Molly Hubbard (Pegeen’s daughter); and great-grandchildren, Leo and Josephine Wright (children of Jack and Stephanie Wright).
In lieu of flowers, Terry’s children request contributions to the Sussex County Association of Retarded Citizens (SCARC, 11 U.S. Route 206, #100 2032, Augusta, N.J. 07822) in memory of both Terry and her beloved son Ted, who benefited so much from SCARC programs.
In light of the current COVID environment, a memorial to celebrate her life of Terry will be held at a future date at Smith-McCracken Funeral Home, Newton. The family will hold a private burial ceremony at the Wright family plot in Branchville Cemetery. Those who want to pay respects now are encouraged to visit her memorial website and leave a comment at forevermissed.com/teresa-mullen-wright/about.