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Barbara Whitley Wright

Barbara Whitley Wright


Barbara Whitley Wright of DeLand Florida, 78, passed away on May 22, 2023. She was born in DeLand, Florida on June 29, 1944 and was the daughter of the late John and Britty Lee Whitley. Barbara attended Stetson University where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and taught in the Volusia County public schools for the entirety of her career.

Barbara guided more than a thousand children over her lifetime, teaching kindergarten at George Marks Elementary for 21 of her 38 years as an educator. She was awarded Teacher of the Year for 1989-90, served as grade-level chair, and mentored early-career educators. She taught children’s Sunday School at First Baptist Church and New Covenant Baptist Church. She attended countless baseball games, piano lessons, rehearsals, performances, and activities for her own kids where she positively impacted the lives of everyone she encountered.

Barbara’s gift was her belief in the dignity of young people. Children gravitated toward Barbara and she cared for them all. Every child she taught was hers. Barbara made each person she met feel like they mattered. Year after year, former students came back to Mrs. Wright’s kindergarten class to visit or maybe even stopped by her home on Halloween so she could see their costumes and they could show her how they’d grown.

Barbara's passion was her church. Barbara attended First Baptist Church in DeLand since she was a young girl. There she met James Wright, and they were married on June 7, 1969. Barbara sang in the choir for years and served as a deacon. Whenever a member of the church needed something, Barbara was there with a home cooked meal or a smile that said everything will be alright. Barbara continued her work as a member of New Covenant Baptist Church, where she helped design their new building, creating a vibrant place of worship for generations.

Barbara’s great loves were her children - Kevin, Emily, John, and Katheryn. She taught them to be honest, respectful, and above all else, believe in themselves because she always believed in them. Barbara is survived by her beloved husband of 54 years, James Wright; her daughter Emily (David) Austin, her son John Wright, and her daughter Katheryn (Clinton Bryant) Wright; her grandchildren Autumn Wright, Elam Wright, Reid Austin, Ian Austin, and Wesley Bryant-Wright; her nephew Andy Whitley. She was preceded in death by her parents Britty Lee and John Whitley, son Kevin Wright, brother Thurmon Whitley, and sister-in-law Wilma Whitley.

Her life’s work continues through the loving influence she has on those lucky enough to call her daughter, sister, wife, mom, teacher, mentor, neighbor, and friend.

A Memorial Service will be held at New Covenant Baptist Church (1350 Blue Lake Ave S, DeLand FL 32724) on Saturday, June 17th at 11am followed by a reception.

Donations may be made to the Barbara Wright Memorial Fund through New Covenant Baptist Church:

Link to Join Barbara Wright’s Memorial Service:

Meeting ID: 961 1199 4874

Passcode: 149013

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