High School Wall of Honor
Robert Lee Wright
Class of January, 1951
Research done by Claradell Shedd, class of 1953.
|From the pen of
The Army photos were taken when I was at Camp Chaffee. Most of the others were lost in the moving. I was trained at Chaffee for five long months. I had served in the Iowa National Guard for eleven months before going into the Army. Because I was a Corporal going into the Army, I was assigned to Division Headquarters because I had some experience in military office procedures and knew how to treat officers.
While at Chaffee, the officers learned that I was an experienced mens' fast-pitch softball pitcher. Since there was a shortage of military softball pitchers, I began pitching every night. I should have been in the artillery unit which was sent to South Korea, but the officers decided that "Wright was going to stay stateside and pitch." As you know, in the military, you do as you are told.
For some reason, I was transferred to Fourth Army Headquarters in San Antonio. My assignment was to run a section of Fourth Army's MRU. The MRU was IBM's new automatic equipment. The military was installing IBM equipment to do its accounting of personnel and equipment everywhere. Since I had been to IBM school, I was qualified to operate and teach the equipment. At times I was also the mechanic. So, this was my job. I taught civilians who worked in the offices how to use the equipment. They would do the work, I would review it, and at the end of the day, I would head off to practice. We played a ball game very night. The hospital at Fourth Army was huge and, unfortunately, filled with injured soldiers. They would bring all of the guys they could to our games. We played for the sick and the wounded.
At Christmas 1953, my orders came down to go to Fifth Army Headquarters in Chicago. Again, they needed someone who had experience with the MRU and also a softball pitcher. The work was downtown, and the workers were civilians. I worked and pitched there until I left the Army in July 21, 1954. I enjoyed the Army. I also re-enlisted.
I enrolled at Drake University in September, 1954, studied Accounting and Finance, and finished my Bachelor's Degree in three years. Then starting my Masters Degree in Economics, I finished my classes and began work on my thesis at the beginning of my fifth year. Drake University offered me a teaching contract, while I was coincidentally offered a job in Des Moines with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell, one of the largest CPA companies in the world.
I decided to do both. I would work for Peat, Marwick, Mitchell in the day and teach at Drake in the evenings. I was also still working on my Masters. It was a very busy year for me. Fortunately, I passed my CPA exam on the first attempt. I enjoyed teaching. Between days and nights, I taught at Drake for ten years. I also had the opportunity to teach at Iowa State University for six years.
I had my own practice for sixteen years. I then sold it to a Des Moines firm and began working as a Financial Consultant. I traveled extensively throughout the world, with assignments in the South Pacific, North and South Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Perth, Australia. (Even did a little softball teaching in Australia).
My family persuaded me to discontinue my foreign travels and consider "staying at home." I opened a Financial Consultant business in Urbandale, IA. The State of Iowa gifted me with The Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants Life Membership, an honor I appreciate and cherish.
I was surprised to see so many girls of different ages playing softball when I got back. There were girls from 7 years up to 18 playing the game I loved so much. Iowa high schools were holding two tournaments yearly; occurring in July and October. WOW! The women were taking over! My feelings were, "It's good!" The game is exciting and yet safe. Besides, the men's game is almost gone.
I decided to develop some new softball pitching clinics and help train the girls. I started doing clinics at high schools all over Iowa. It worked out very well, I am once again teaching what I so enjoy. The high schools we visited charged a fees, which the schools retained to purchase softball equipment and uniforms for the teams. The pitchers improved, and we made good friends with the schools and the kids. I did this for nearly 36 years. I have probably taught over 6,000 girls. Today I am a softball pitching coach at Urbandale High School. This coaching has slowed me down as far as conducting the clinics, because I teach for one of the high schools. I love this game!
I would like to tell you how I began pitching softball. When I was 12, I developed rheumatic fever and was very sick for almost a year (World War II). My grandfather took me to a lot of mens' fast-pitch softball games. The players were older guys (around 40). They were great! Every town in Iowa had a softball field. Games were 55 minutes long, with usually four games a night. Grandpa knew the pitchers and encouraged me to learn the grips, snaps, strides, speed, etc. I could not play other sports because of my enlarged heart.
Grandpa built me a place at home in the basement where I could practice, and the guys gave us over 100 balls to use. I would go downstairs and "pitch" 200 pitches a day. The guys were great about helping me along. At the age of 14, my heart was back to normal size, and I started pitching with the mens' teams. (I think softball saved my life). Maybe softball pitching in the Army kept me in the States during the Korean War. Had I gone to Korea, I think I would have been a forward observer. I'm told that in Korea forward observers had short lives. Bob
|11/29/10: Living in IA. Died 06/04/15.
|Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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