Will Wright ’22 was born in Pasadena, CA on the 6th of March, 2000, and passed peacefully at home Nov. 5. Facing a congenital heart defect, he first had surgery at six months of age and developed pulmonary hypertension at 11. This didn’t stop Will from living fully, dreaming widely, and constantly cracking jokes.
In childhood, Will attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and continued mentoring Scouts every January at his troop’s annual desert camp trip.
At Pasadena High School, Will was the Bass Drummer in the Marching Band and Winter Drumline. He inspired family and friends alike with his leadership in the Gay and Straight Alliance Club, later bringing his energy to U of R’s Listening and Understanding Sexuality Together.
Will chose Redlands after considering both Occidental College and UC Santa Cruz, finding that it felt like home. He lived in Fairmont hall his first year, which is where he met Kayleigh Stelling ‘22. Stelling remembers first seeing Will in the hall during Freshman orientation.
“Will had this magnetic personality and so much energy and would talk to anyone,” she recalls. After hitting it off, the two spent much time together.
Will in front of his Freshman hall, Fairmont.
Working at the Armacost Library and traversing campus via electric bike, Will led a complete life thanks largely to his friends, according to his family.
Thoughtful, creative, original, humane. “Kind” is a recurring description offered by several of his friends and his academic advisor, History Chair Jessie Hewitt. Even Will’s most serious critique would come out “in the most strangely positive way,” Stelling said.
Hewitt remembers meeting Will in their first class together—European History since World War II. “He was wearing this green blazer with question marks on it. I always thought it was supposed to be like The Riddler’s [coat] in Batman, but I never asked him about it, and I wish I had,” Hewitt said.
His fashion sense was, according to Stelling, something Will would like to be remembered by. Among his most treasured possessions were his Mr. Rogers coat and rainbow jacket.
Professor Hewitt recalls how Will’s energetic, congenial personality was apparent even through email, once the pandemic hit last spring.
“He’d include book, music, or movie recommendations. I think this really speaks to Will’s empathy and kindness. He thought about other people, even when it wasn’t expected,” Hewitt said.
Will’s love of reading, from history to horror, came up in multiple interviews. In one essay about historical memory in Germany in the decades after the Holocaust, Will quoted the given reading materials as well as “Stephen King and a joke from a British game show,” according to Hewitt.
“He was a really eclectic thinker, which is something I admired a lot.”
There’s possibly no author Will admired more than J.R.R. Tolkien. He could talk forever about the difference in world building between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and how those worlds differ from any other fantasy novel.
Another subject of great importance to Will was his relationship with God. Despite his health challenges and the state of the world, Will’s belief in the goodness of God was not strained.
Never allowing his heart to hamper his dreams, Will planned to move to cleaner air in Oregon or Washington, where he would teach history. Having a family was crucial to Will’s ideal future.
Redlands will remember Will’s humor, humility, empathy, and unending positive energy. He is survived by his parents, Jan and Ed, and siblings Dani and Becca ‘18.