Community Advocate/Activist

Margaret Joan Wright was born at the beginning of the Great Depression and graduated from Farmingdale High School. The majority of “Boney Joanie’s” formative years were spent boarding with kindly relatives or on her own. The Lions Club presented her with her first pair of eyeglasses. At school chorus tryouts, she heard the words “Please try again next year, Miss Wright” and knew what that meant, but would forever remember that sentence as a model of compassion. It would take three tries to make the girls tumbling squad, but the other girls eventually relented and let her be part of the group. While a freshman, a senior named Ray called Joan’s older brother Jerry to discuss the lineup that the coach ought to put up: “Telephone Joan” picked up the receiver and Ray ended up explaining the finer points of a batting order to her. Not surprising, Joan did most of the talking, but picked up a few ideas about teamwork and organizational strategy. Joan and Ray married about a year after Joan graduated high school and, in the early 50s, took their young and growing family to young and growing West Babylon.

Joan became involved in Santapogue’s PTA and embraced the intelligent enthusiasm for education and community involvement she admired in Mr. Ames and Miss Doris. She learned to drive so she could attend meetings and get donations from local shopkeepers. With the guidance and support of the school’s administration, Joan moved on to District and Council posts. That kitchen table practically disappeared under piles of Joan’s “very important papers”. After the first batch of Haugen kids, Joan was just getting started all over again at Santapogue, where she reveled in the role of a sort of senior statesperson. She found special joy and fulfillment in being able to help teach in a true classroom setting with Mrs. Rigby’s “Recipe for Reading Program”.

Joan then got involved in the establishment of the West Babylon Public Library and numerous projects initiated by the WB Beautification Society. Joan helped organize the placement of — among other things — the H. Austin Sheldon Walk and the lamp posts with hanging flower baskets. Somewhere in there, the windmill — that icon of the community, was somehow successfully conjured up and made to rise once more. Joan was thrilled to be a part of making that happen and to be able to share it with all the wonderful people who welcomed her so graciously to West Babylon.