National Assisted Living Week: Retired engineer keeps in touch at Mount Royal Pines IIIBorn on Feb. 11 — the same day as Thomas Edison, though a few years later — Arthur Wright lights up when talking about innovation.
By: Thomas Vaughn, Duluth Budgeteer News
Born on Feb. 11 — the same day as Thomas Edison, though a few years later — Arthur Wright lights up when talking about innovation.
A Northwestern Bell Telephone Company employee for 40 years, Wright retired as an engineering manager in 1974. Yet he still reads Wired, a high-tech magazine that wasn’t even around when he entered his retirement years.
“Doesn’t everybody?” he asked as he set the magazine down on a table next to his living room chair.
“Well, some people are still back in the pony express days. I would say to them that they’re missing some of the best experiences of life. I think that the elderly especially should be very cognizant of what’s taking place in our world.”
At 99, Wright stays cognizant of what’s happening in the world through his three children, eight grandchildren, faithful friends, his computer and ham radio. He is the last living charter member of the Arrowhead Radio Amateurs Club, receiving his license in 1929.
“I’m proud to be a member of the club,” he said, noting that before cell phones became common ham radio played a significant role in emergency response, as it still does today. “It’s a group of fine people that have done a lot of public service. Ham radio is great.”
Wright also follows the climate change debate. He believes in the possibilities of nuclear energy, despite the recent tsunami in Japan.
“Nuclear can be done safely,” Wright said. “That’s the way we’ve got to go. It costs — sure it costs. But, we’ve got to embrace these modern things.”
Wright moved into Mount Royal Pines III, an assisted living residence, after his wife of 75 years, Helen, died 18 months ago at 100. The location near Duluth’s Mount Royal shopping center that includes a Duluth Public Library branch location and Mount Royal Fine Foods drew him in.
“The three good meals a day were a big factor,” he said. “Most of my local friends also find it convenient to get here. They come to shop at the grocery store. It’s a handy place. We’re all social people. That’s the best part about being here.”
Two of Wright’s local friends include John and Kathy Baumgarten. John has known Wright since his boyhood when he became best friends with Wright’s son Don. The Baumgartens visit Wright every Monday.
“He got me interested in amateur radio, something which I still follow to this day,” Baumgarten said. “He’s an amazingly forward-thinking guy. He keeps abreast of current activities and technical things. He’s just a very interesting guy for sure.”
Kathy Anderson is the housing manager at Mount Royal Pines III. She met Wright before he moved in one year ago. Now, her office is close to Wright’s front door.
“Art is an absolutely remarkable man. He’s living life the way he chooses to live it,” Anderson said. “We want folks like Art to have a quality of life that works for them. I believe we give him that opportunity here.”
Wright also reconnected with some childhood friends of his own after moving in. Robert Rhode has known Wright since they were in high school. Rhode has lived at Mount Royal Pines III for 5 years. He is 98. Both men attend Central High School reunions together now even though they graduated in separate classes.
“My kids moved me in. That was fine with me,” said Rhode, who also enjoys using the nearby branch library from time to time. “I don’t know why I lived this long. My mom and dad fed me right. Of course, I knew people whose moms and dads fed them right and they died early. I didn’t sit on my tail, though.”
Wright agreed that staying active is the key to healthy living, assisted or not.
“I’ve always gotten a reasonable amount of exercise, I quit smoking 60 years ago, and I keep moving.”