Rockwood city councilman dies

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By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood City Councilman William Pete Wright, 80, died Tuesday after struggling with health issues.

Wright, who had missed some recent Rockwood City Council meetings for medical tests, had fallen at one point because of a dizzy spell.

“He had some medical problems, and really we were concerned about it,” said Mayor James Watts.

Wright had seemed to be improving, but Watts said his heart problems proved to be too much.

Wright, who won a two-year term in 2011, had taken out a petition for a full council term in the Nov. 4 election.

“Pete was kind of an optimist,” Watts said. “I think he felt like his health was going to get better, and he enjoyed what he was doing as a council person.”

City administrator Becky Ruppe sent out an email to employees and officials praising Wright and his work.

“He was a true gentleman, who always spoke and voted his conscience,” Ruppe said. “I am not sure there are many men more honorable than Pete Wright.”

“As a check signer, he always showed concern over every penny that was spent on the city’s behalf. He always gave words of encouragement to employees and helped us make important decisions. His wisdom and guidance was invaluable. Employees at city hall loved Pete Wright like family, and we will miss him terribly.”

Wright focused on improving personnel procedures, such as job descriptions as a guide for employees and a gauge for meeting goals.

Watts said they are closer to seeing those become a reality.

“He was not only interested in that from the city part, but the gas, water and sewer part,” Watts said.

Wright served on the finance committee and as the council representative on the board for Rockwood Water, Sewer and Natural Gas.

Watts said Wright saw how important it was from his own work experience as personnel and plant manager at Roane Electric Furnace.

“He could see the importance of the city have policies to guide our employees,” Watts said.

Wright was an elder at Rockwood First Presbyterian Church and a member of the church choir.

He was at Roane Electric Furnace for more than 20 years and an affiliate broker at Roane Realty since 1998.

Wright replaced Krystal Hennager when he was elected.

Hennager had been appointed to fill Judy Wassom’s seat, who died after only a few weeks in office.

Wassom herself had been appointed to council after the death of her husband, Stan Wassom.

In 2009, Councilman Gene East died after a stroke and pneumonia.

Last year, Councilman Bill Thompson succumbed to cancer after a lengthy battle.