James Nelson Wright

9/29/1933 - 2/14/2017

Obituary Overview

In Loving Memory



September 29, 1933 – February 14, 2017

After a prolonged battle with cancer and surrounded by his devoted family, Dr. James N. Wright passed away at St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital, Kingston on February 14, 2017.  He was 83 years old. 

Jim leaves behind the love of his life Eliane, his wife and partner of 57 years, his proud daughters Tamara (Tammy), Michele and Lisa, grandchildren Maxime and Jessica Lemay, sister Laney Saley, nephews Michael Saley (Maria) and Martin Duhamel (Susan) and niece Laurie Mackay(Craig). He is predeceased by his parents James and Muriel Wright, brothers-in-law Denis Duhamel and Michael Saley and niece Teresa Saley. 

Jim was born in Lethbridge, Alberta but left home at a young age in order to study, work and earn his way in the world. No job was too big or too small if it helped him achieve his goals. Originally set on studying Physics (which he took as an elective for “fun” at the University of Alberta) he switched courses, completing his dental degree through the Canadian Armed Forces.  Shortly afterwards, he met and married Eliane who was to share equally in every adventure, challenge and success that his illustrious career and full life had to offer.

A man of few words but great ambition, Jim reached the pinnacle of not one but two separate careers. A consummate leader within the Canadian Armed Forces Dental Corps for 33 years, he achieved the rank of Brigadier General. Upon retirement from the military in 1986, he became Head of the Department of Stomatology, Associate Dean and finally Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Manitoba until his second retirement in 1996.  Few would have been able to excel in in such disparate environments but this was just one of the many challenges he met head on, relishing the chance to win over those in doubt. As one colleague noted “while not everyone necessarily liked Jim, everyone admired him” for his intelligence and diligence as well as his decisive, fair and pragmatic leadership. 

With awards and accomplishments too numerous to list, Jim was invested as Honorary Dental Surgeon to the Queen and left an indelible mark on military dentistry. His forward thinking leadership as Dean of Dentistry ensured success for the next generation of dental professionals. Enthusiastic travellers, Jim and Eliane embraced retirement with customary vigor, continuing to travel the globe and making Ajijic Mexico their beloved winter home for over 20 years.

A true hero to his family and many friends in Canada, the US and Mexico, Jim’s legacy of lifelong learning, dedication to family and commitment to national and professional duty will forever be admired.

The Wright family is indebted to the entire staff at St. Mary’s of the Lake Palliative Care Unit for their enduring care and compassion. Memorial and interment services will be held at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, donations to the
University Hospitals Kingston Foundation / St Mary’s of the Lake-Providence Care Palliative Unit (www.uhkf.ca) would be greatly appreciated. Arrangements in the care of Robert J. Reid & Sons, “The Chapel on the Corner”. 

James Nelson Wright
Posted by Jinny Hunter | 3/4/2017

Dear Elaine, Our deepest sympathy and to let you know you are in our thoughts in this most difficult time. We hope to see you next winter here at Birds. Bill & Jinny Hunter

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Posted by Ralph Rix | 2/20/2017

Elaine and family. So very sorry to hear of Gen. Wright's passing. I have many fond memories of those years we spent in Cold Lake. He was a terrific boss, tough but fair and I,m sure he had his hands full dealing with all the young Captains stationed there. He must have felt that he had landed in a hornets nest when I think of all the capers we tried to pull off. I can still see that little grin and twinkle in his eyes - he knew darn well who the culprits were! I often think of his brilliant mind and dedication to duty which was truly inspiring to all who knew him. My heartfelt condolences to you Elaine and the girls-I know he will be greatly missed.

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