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Civic, business leader Parke Wright III dies

The 79-year-old Tampa community leader was a former executive vice president of Lykes Bros.

By CRAIG BASSE

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 4, 2001


Parke Wright III, a business and community leader in Tampa, died Saturday in Naples. He was 79 years old.

Mr. Wright was former executive vice president of Lykes Bros. Inc., the vast holding company with interests in citrus, sugar, banks, ranching, meat packing, natural gas distribution and construction. He also was chairman of the Second National Bank of Tampa and a member of the boards of First Florida Bank and General Telephone Co.

Mr. Wright also led civic agencies such as the Greater Tampa United Way, the Florida State Fair Association and State Fair Authority and the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

He was a past president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and had belonged to the Hillsborough County Taxpayers Association and the board of St. Joseph's Hospital Foundation.

In recognition of his dedication to his community, the Junior Chamber of Commerce named him Man of the Year in 1957. In 1972, he was named Tampa's Citizen of the Year.

He was born June 6, 1921, in Buffalo, N.Y., the son of Parke and Grace Delaney Wright. After studies at the University of Buffalo, he went to work as a credit manager at Buffalo Industrial Bank in 1940.

When World World II broke out, Mr. Wright joined the U.S. Army as a pilot. He was blown out of his plane, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, on a mission over Stuttgart, Germany, in 1944. After parachuting into a tree, he was seized by what remained of the city's defenders, a group of old men, and imprisoned.

He later was transferred to eastern Germany, where he survived the final nine months of the war on a diet of rutabagas and Red Cross food packages.

After the war, he went to work in 1945 as a regional manager for National Airlines in New York. He stayed with the airline until 1952, when he joined Lykes Food Products Inc. in Tampa as general sales manager and vice president.

He was a member of Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

Mr. Wright is survived by his wife, Almeria H. Wright; a son, John Parke Wright IV, and three granddaughters. A private funeral will be held with burial at Woodlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Gulf Ridge Council, Boy Scouts of America, 4410 Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607.

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