My father, Lloyd Evert Wright, passed quietly from this life on the morning of October 12, 2001, having completed nearly 96 years of life. At the memorial service for him on October 16, Lloyd's son Art (my older brother) recounted this about our father:
Another image I have is of being with the whole family in the car as we drove along a gravel road with Dad at the wheel. We came to a rise in the road and rolled to a slow stop on the train tracks. A train was coming around the bend. Admittedly it was a ways off and the danger slight to non-existent, but dad paused long enough to get my mother to complain and my sisters to yell. As I think back, it was an interesting thing for a man, who was so conservative in so many other ways, to do. Here was a closet risk-taker.
To say “closet risk-taker” is perhaps an understatement. For in truth, Dad loved the adventure of taking risks—whether it was taking an unknown road while traveling, playing Rook® or some other game, or hanging onto ryegrass seed in hopes of getting a better price. Under other circumstances, he might have been a “problem gambler”.
Dad loved the satisfaction of overcoming adversity and seeing “justice” done. Many of the stories he loved to tell (and which are recounted in this biography) contain this element. He was extremely competitive. If someone else won fair-and-square, so be it. But Dad was not satisfied unless he had done his utmost, within the limits of fair play, to win.
Ironically, the course of Dad's life was less a product of this will to win than one might expect. Strength and determination played a role, to be sure. But unplanned and unexpected—indeed, unlikely—events played a key role in determining the course of his life. Principal among these events is the one that brought him to faith.
It is for these reasons that I have titled this (auto)biography Against the Odds. Because Dad was a risk-taker, because he sought to overcome adversity, and because unlikely events influenced the course of his life in such a significant way, his life was, in every sense, against the odds.
(At the risk of seeming pedantic, I feel compelled to explain that I don't see these “unlikely events” as random ones. While the term “odds” is often associated with “random” processes, that is not the intent here. Proverbs 16:33 explains,
The lot [think something like dice] is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
In this light, I see the unlikely events that set the course of Dad's life as acts of Divine Providence, not chance occurrences.)
This biography is the product of the efforts of many. Dad originally set out to write his life story in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and worked at it on and off until his death. Anna Major and Cindy Dyrness, Dad's granddaughters, each typed parts of the manuscript. Most of his children had a hand in the project at one time or another. I actually became involved late in the process.
As I was preparing this first half of the biography for the web, my brother Dan offered invaluable suggestions regarding the presentation of the material. And my wife Carol has been extremely patient with the time this project has taken and continues to take.
I am indebted to many—some known to me, some not—for geneaological and historical information about Dad's ancestors. In particular, Elane Rosok and Greg Wright, Dad's grandniece and grandnephew, have generously shared volumes of information with me, only a small portion of which is reflected in the Prologue of this biography.
I do not aspire to provide a deep analysis of my father or his life. If that be necessary, I leave it to others. My desire is to let Dad tell his own story, editing or providing supplementary information only when it aids the reader's understanding. My hope in publishing this biography is that those who knew Dad, and those who did not, will enjoy the story of his life, and come to appreciate, if not admire, the man behind the story.
Lloyd Evert Wright, Jr.