HICKORY, N.C. (WBTV) – The mayor of Hickory was found dead in his home Thursday afternoon, the City of Hickory confirmed.
The City of Hickory said Mayor Rudy Wright’s body was found around 2:40 p.m. Thursday. No other information has been released regarding the circumstances surrounding Wright’s death.
Mayor Wright had been the mayor of Hickory since 2001 and was well-known in the community for his big smile and passion for the city.
“He was a jovial spirit, he was always kind to my kids and my nieces. Always would yell over and say how good the yard was looking,” said Nicola, who had been Wright’s neighbor for over a decade. “He has done huge things. He has transformed a lot of things. He got a lot of bond referendums to make a lot of improvements downtown and everywhere else.”
Mayor Rudy Wright worked hard on things like fixing the city’s sinkhole, keeping businesses in town and working on bond referendums that improved the city.
“He loved this town and he did a lot for us,” said Dennis Hunter, a close friend of Wright. “One of the last times I talked to him, he told me he was going to Washington to get some money for the city.”
Mayor Wright had a long history with Hickory.
“It probably came through my father because he had been mayor here for 19 years. He and Rudy were good friends,” said Nancy Willingham, who was Wright’s friend. “He was interested in everything that went on in this city and the people.”
Mayor Wright was known for making his phone number readily available for the residents in Hickory.
“He put his whole heart into it. He would advertise his phone number for anybody that wanted to get in touch with him,” Willingham said. “He would say ‘this is my number, call me anytime.'”
City Manager Warren Wood released a statement Thursday:
It is with deepest sorrow, that I must inform you of the untimely passing of Mayor Rudy Wright today at his home. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. While the Hickory Police Department is conducting an investigation, at this time there are no indications of suspicious circumstances. I ask that you respect the family’s privacy and allow them time to grieve.”
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