Emmett McClendon Wright

Emmett McClendon Wright, 82, of Orlando, Florida went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ peacefully at his home on March 31st 2024. He was surrounded by his loving wife of 60 years, Darlene (nee Sturrup), his family, and friends.

Emmett was born in Birmingham, AL on May 22, 1941. His Father, Elwood Wright and Mother Jane (nee Griggs) passed away when he was a young boy. He and his older brother Emory were raised by his Father’s twin sister, Eleanor (nee Wright) and her husband, Ben Troutman. His younger brother David was raised by his Mother’s sister, Judy (nee Griggs) and her husband, Charles Earnest.

His family moved to Dallas, TX. and then to New Orleans, LA. where he learned to play the trombone at age 8. Emmett quickly fell in love with Dixieland Jazz, which became a lifelong passion. He later moved to Miami, FL. and attended & graduated from Miami Jackson Senior High School and played in the Band and Orchestra. It was here that he met the love of his life, his wife Darlene.

After graduation in 1959, Emmett enlisted in the United States Navy as a Musician in February 1960. Upon completion of Recruit Training in Great Lakes, IL. and then the Navy School of Music in Washington, DC, Emmett was assigned to the Commander Seventh Fleet Band in Yokosuka, Japan. While there, he had the honor of serving aboard the Flagships USS Saint Paul and the USS Oklahoma City. After finishing his first tour of duty, he returned home from Japan to marry Darlene Sturrup on June 8, 1963.

The newlywed couple was then stationed in San Diego, CA. where he was assigned to the Naval Training Center Band. Afterward, he served aboard the USS Canberra as a part of the WestPac Cruise, deployed to support the onset of the Vietnam War in 1965. Returning home from Vietnam in 1966, he served with the Naval Shipyard Band in Long Beach, CA. In May of that year, his first-born son, Andrew Emmett arrived.

Shortly thereafter, the family was stationed with the Navy Band at Naval Air Station Kodiak, AK. In September 1967, his second son, Jeffrey Allen was born. In 1968 the family was stationed in Orlando, FL. Emmett was assigned to the very first Navy Band at the new Naval Training Center Orlando. One year later in 1969, he won an audition for The United States Navy Band in Washington, DC.

After being assigned to the DC band, he joined “The Mariners” jazz ensemble. This band would be the formation of the Navy Band’s very first rock music ensemble, “Port Authority”. Later this band became the US Military’s very first Soul Music Band. Port Authority would tour the world and record several albums, one of which was produced by Phil Ramone. The band became instrumental in the recruiting efforts at African American High Schools and Colleges during the Vietnam War.

His daughter, Laura Anne was born in September 1973, and shortly after he was assigned to The US Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, MD. While there, he played in the “Next Wave” jazz ensemble and the “Original Crabtowne Stompers” Dixieland Band.

Retiring from the Navy as a Musician Chief Petty Officer in 1979, after 20 years of devoted service to his country, he moved his family back to Orlando, FL. Emmett found work as a trombonist with the Circus World Band, the Rosie O’Grady’s Good Times Jazz Band, and at Walt Disney World. He continued performing throughout Orlando for the rest of his life, not only professionally, but also in the churches he attended.

Emmett also worked as a Real Estate Agent for Coldwell Banker and later started a business as a Piano Tuner. His last performances were primarily with the “Good Times Jazz Band” and “The Gentlemen of Jazz” Dixieland Band where he performed throughout Florida, and at downtown Winter Garden, FL every month for 14 years.

Along with his career in music playing his trombone, he loved spending time with his family. He enjoyed attending UCF Knights Football Games and sporting events. He spent a lot of his time enjoying a great movie or series, listening to jazz, and reading books.

A devoted husband, his marriage to Darlene for 60 years was a love everlasting, rooted in a lifelong devotion to one another, and bonded by a strong faith in Jesus Christ. He had an endearing love of family; he touched the lives of every person he met and lived life to the fullest. Above all, he was a devoted Christian who loved Jesus Christ with all of his heart and lived his life honoring and serving God.

Emmett is preceded in death by his Father, Elwood Wright, Mother, Jane Wright, Aunt Eleanor Wright, Uncle Ben Troutman, Brother Emory Wright, Sister in Law Frances Wright, Brother David Wright, and Sister in Law Patsy Kittle.

Emmett is survived by his wife Darlene (nee Sturrup), sons Andrew Wright (Leslie), Jeffrey Wright, daughter Laura Shelton (Brandon), Grandchildren Sarah Wright, Kathryn Wright, Anna Wright, Brett Shelton, Chandler Shelton, Joshua Wright, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside service will be conducted on Friday, April 5 at 9:30 a.m. at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, 5525 U.S. Highway 1, North Mims, FL 32754.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. at University Carillon Church, 1365 Campus View Ct, Oviedo, FL 32765.

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