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Saturday, March 18, 2023
10:00 - 11:00am (Central time)
Saturday, March 18, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)
Everette “Ev” Wright, 74, of Cottage Grove, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family on Monday, March 13, 2023.
Ev was born on August 28, 1948, becoming the seventh and youngest child of Ervin and Evelyn Wright in rural St. James, Minnesota. He was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in St. James. Ev attended St. James High School where he played football, dominated in wrestling, and served as senior class president. He graduated in 1966. He then attended Jackson Vocational-Technical in Building Construction.
At age 19, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Seabees Construction Battalion and served in Vietnam 1969-70. Ev married his high school sweetheart Joni Enger on November 16, 1968, at East Sveadahl Lutheran Church. His strong faith and the Seabee motto “Can Do!” got him through hard times in Vietnam and served as a beacon throughout his life. After Vietnam, he and Joni planned to return to St. James for a few weeks, and those weeks turned into 25 years. While in St. James, they raised their three daughters, Julie, Jill, and Jenika, who all graduated from St. James High School, just as he and Joni did. He and Joni also enjoyed hobby farming for many years on “Ponderosa Road” (RR2) just outside of town.
Ev started his Wright Construction business in 1970, serving the St. James area for 16 years. Following his construction career, he was drawn to serve the veteran community and worked as the Veterans Service Officer for Watonwan County from 1987 to 1993. When they became empty nesters, they moved to Cottage Grove, Minnesota. Ev earned his bachelor’s degree in health care management from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul in 2000, which propelled his career with the Minnesota Veterans Homes Board. There, he found the perfect blend of his two career passions of construction and veteran services. He managed veterans benefits and construction projects throughout the state until his retirement in 2011. His advocacy for veterans extended beyond his career, supporting countless veterans throughout his life. He was a lifetime VFW and American Legion member and served for many years on the Honor Guard for military funerals.
Ev was known for his big heart, kindness, generosity, and never turned down an opportunity to gather with friends and family or to meet at a coffee shop. He took great pride in his three grandchildren, Haley, Jack, and Kate and was very supportive in each of their passions. He was always willing to lend a hand by volunteering with Sertoma, Habitat for Humanity, Roundup River Ranch, and East Sveadahl and All Saints Lutheran Churches. He was a man of many projects, small to big, including building his family home in St. James in 1973 and an addition to their home in Cottage Grove in retirement. He took pride in not only helping others with their home projects but also mentoring them along the way.
During retirement, Ev enjoyed winters in Destin, Florida, time at their lake home in Wisconsin, and driving his ’57 Chevy 210. He fit in a round of golf or a Minnesota Vikings game any chance he could. Just when you think he didn’t have any free time, for 27 years he enjoyed supporting his son-in-law Tony’s Elvis entertainment business as driver, lighting technician, scarf cutter, security, and much more.
Doctors diagnosed Ev with inoperable pancreatic cancer in December 2020. Due to his determination, grit, positivity, and passion to hold onto his earthly life, his medical team considered him a miracle man who lived boldly and positively with this disease for over two years. He talked often throughout these last years about how blessed he was to live a long life, knowing full well that so many veterans’ lives were cut short too soon. His big heart, compassion, and advocacy for veterans was a testament to his appreciation for life. We offer our sincere gratitude to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center team for their exceptional care from the time of his diagnosis to the final salutes during Ev’s “Walk of Honor.”
Ev will be deeply missed by his loving wife of 54 years, Joni; daughters, Julie (Patty Mattern) Wright, Jill (Tony) Redmond, and Jenika (Lee) Doberstein; grandchildren, Haley (Kyle Cormican) Trudeau, Jack Redmond, and Kate Redmond; siblings Eunice Wiederhhoeft, Eldora Wolle, Eldon (Joline) Wright, and Eunella Wright; brothers and sisters-in law Irene Wright, Rich (Sue) Enger, and Wayne (Terri) Enger, and many loved nieces, nephews, other family, and friends.
Ev was preceded in death by his parents, Ervin and Evelyn; grandson, Isaac; brother, Elwood; and sister, Elaine.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, March 18, at 11am with visitation 10-11am at All Saints Lutheran Church, 8100 Belden Blvd, Cottage Grove. Private interment at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred and will be donated to All Saints Lutheran Church and a veteran support organization.
For those who would like to participate in Ev's service via livestream, you can watch the service on Saturday, March 18, 2023 at 11 AM. It can be viewed by scrolling to the bottom of this page, and "CLICK PLAY" to begin. Please leave a message of support on our Tribute Wall to let the family know you were able to watch the service. If you are having troubles with the Livestream, please accept our apologies, but the service will be available to watch later in the day.