Harold Bell Wright, Jr.

Harold Bell Wright, Jr., age 80, died peacefully of heart failure November 6 at his Lake Monticello home, surrounded by loving family. He is survived by his devoted wife of 43 years, Angell Husted; five sons: Michael Harold Wright of Franklin MA, Jonathan Joseph Wright and wife Rachel Knighten of Eugene OR, Mitchell Husted Wright of Arlington VA, Matthew Husted Wright and wife Naya Saucedo of Scottsdale AZ, Andrew Husted Wright of Arlington VA; stepdaughter Michelle Pak and husband Sung of Easton CT; grandchildren: Ana Knighten, Silvia Knighten, Timo Mitchell Wright, Malcolm Javier Saucedo Wright; his brother Paul Sims Wright and wife Mary of Lake Monticello VA. He was preceded in death by his parents Harold and Callie Wright and 17-year-old son Timo Husted Wright.

Dubbed by many as “the father and grandfather of Charlottesville television,” Harold was a broadcaster for 58 years, all of it in the Charlottesville Radio and Television Market.

Harold was born December 1,1940 in Atlanta GA, and his family moved to Charlottesville in 1957. He graduated as the 1959 Salutatorian of Albemarle High School and then entered the University of Virginia with a major in electrical engineering. During his second year at UVA, he fell in love with broadcasting while working at the student-run station WUVA. Two years later, he joined WCHV radio as an engineer and announcer, and transformed their operations by incorporating remote broadcasts, hosting his “Fun with Harold” radio show, and even adding play-by-play commentary for high school sports. In 1965, Wright and three other Charlottesville businessmen bought a bankrupt radio station, WELK, and Harold turned it into the city’s first Top 40 station. In 1972, he decided Charlottesville was large enough to support its own television station; Wright then garnered an additional 20 investors and an NBC network affiliation, and, in March 1973, Virginia Broadcasting Corporation signed on WVIR-TV/NBC29. In January 2020, Harold retired from WVIR-TV/NBC29, where he had served for 48 years as Vice President and General Manager.

Harold’s drive and determination shown through in everything he did. He was a 1983 charter member — and third president — of the Blue Ridge Mountains Rotary Club. He also served on numerous boards and committees, including the Dogwood Festival Board, Salvation Army, Charlottesville Soap Box Derby, UVA Medical Center Community Relations, and UVA Children’s Hospital Committee. His awards include the Charlottesville-Albemarle Chamber of Commerce 2007 Paul Goodloe McIntyre Award for Community Service, the 2018 Robert Gallimore Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Public Service from the Virginia/West Virginia Associated Press, and the 2019 C.T. Lucy Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Association of Broadcasters, which honors leaders in the state’s broadcasting industry.

Wright devoted much of his life to mentoring his employees, friends, and — of course — his sons. He was also an active churchgoer who gave freely of his time and resources. His favorite hobby was working in and around his yard, especially tending his lawn during what he called “joy rides” on his John Deere.

A Celebration of Life and Love, with a reception to follow, will be held on Harold’s 81st birthday, Wednesday, December 1, 5:00 pm, at Effort Church, 7820 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Palmyra VA. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your favorite charity in Harold Wright’s memory.

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