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In Remembrance of Harold Wright

Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 9:35 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - WVIR’s signal went live on March 11, 1973. Harold Wright made that possible.

Harold came to Charlottesville as an engineering student at the University of Virginia. It was there he fell in love with broadcasting, first with radio.

Harold decided Charlottesville deserved, and could support, its own television station. So, with about $500,000 in capital and secondhand equipment from a failed station in North Carolina, WVIR was born.

It wasn’t glamorous by any means. Harold would wake up early every morning to turn on the transmitter and sign on for the day. He would then hit the ground running, working to sell TV advertising to keep the station afloat.

“He was always interested in bringing things back to the community and making it centered on that community and that user experience,” longtime employee Rob Davis said.

Harold’s work at the station kept him busy and brought him success, but it wasn’t about the money.

“He looked after that station as if it was his baby,” close friend Debbie Weisser said.

“The one thing that I take away from Harold is the fact of his involvement with the community,” close friend Bill Curtis said. “The fact that he understood that TV is private enterprise, but it’s a private enterprise that’s based on the community, it serves the community. It’s in the service industry, basically.”

“Being involved in so many different organizations, from the Rotary to sitting on the board at the University of Virginia hospital, the fundraising over the years - especially with the Children’s’ Miracle Network television telethons,” Davis said. ”He’s helped so many families and so many children in our community.”

Throughout the decades, NBC29 grew under Harold’s leadership.

Most days, you could find Harold chatting with good friends at Court Square Tavern for lunch, or Tastings for a happy hour drink.

“Court Square Tavern was a happening place, as far as all the imported bottled beers. Of course, Harold, very amusingly, drank Miller Lite and nothing but Miller Lite. I often asked him if Miller was still making their payments when he came through the door,” Curtis said.

Friends would soon become like family, and for Harold, family came first.

“He was always someone I could look up to and talk to and confide in,” Weisser said.

A lot can change in almost 50 years, but today, all of us here at NBC29 can can safely say it is thanks to Harold that you can count on us.

“If it was not for him and that small group of friends and business people that helped launch this, I don’t know what the media market would even be like today,” Davis said.

Harold Wright passed away peacefully at his Lake Monticello home Saturday, November 6.

“I want you to know that despite the toll the many health struggles took on him, Harold always retained that inimitable, powerful spark that I’m sure many of you knew- and will remember- so well,” Angell Wright said in a letter to family and friends.

Harold will be greatly missed, but there is is no doubt his legacy will live on for many years to come.

“He’s someone I will always remember. Always remember,” Weisser said.

A “Celebration of Life and Love” will be held at Effort Baptist Church at 5 p.m. Wednesday, December 1, on what would have been Harold’s 81st birthday. The church is located at 7820 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Palmyra, VA 22963.

RELATED: Harold Wright of NBC29 retires

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