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Homewood accepts donation of Jim Wright’s fire chief car

The late Jim Wright’s family members posed for photos beside his red 1954 Ford “fire chief” car parked at Homewood village hall before the board of trustees meeting Tuesday, July 25. They were on hand for a resolution honoring their brother and to officially turn the old car over to the village.

Wright, who died March 10, was chairman of the village Appearance Commission, a former village trustee, retired firefighter and local historian. His fire chief car was a familiar sight in the Homewood 4th of July parade for many years.

Homewood Fire Chief Bob Grabowski thanked Wright’s family for their generosity. Wright’s brothers, Richard and Michael, and his sister, Nancy Wright Dubetz, and her husband, Steve Dubetz and son Patrick Dubetz were present.

From left, Richard Wright, Nancy Wright Dubetz, Steve Dubetz, Patrick Dubetz and Michael Wright pose beside the late Jim Wright’s 1954 Ford “fire chief” car, which the family donated to the Village of Homewood. Jim Wright was a longtime firefighter and local historian. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

“We are so thankful to the family and to Jim for donating it to us,” Grabowski said. “We didn’t make it to the 4th of July parade this year, but we will every year after this, I can promise you that.” The paperwork transfer was not completed in time for this year’s parade.

Grabowski recalled that he met Wright early in his firerighting career, when he was a cadet with the Country Club Hills Fire Department and Wright was a cadet instructor.

“Homewood was actually the first fire station I ever walked into, and Jim was one of the first people I actually met,” he said. “One of the things he always wanted to be remembered for was just being a good guy. He was a great guy.” 

Homewood Village Manager Napoleon Haney added his own story about Wright. He said after knowing him for about a year, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the Homewood Historical Society needed someone to host Zoom meetings.

“Because he was such a good guy, I was compelled to host the meetings,” Haney said. “I remember my wife would say ‘Why are you rushing home on your bike to start a Zoom meeting that you’re not even a part of?’ I just turned to her and said, ‘Jim Wright.’ He was that type of guy. He meant a lot to all of us.”

The resolution honoring Wright listed many of his contributions to the village and concluded: “Jim Wright will be remembered for his wisdom, his unyielding faith, his commitment to the well-being of Homewood, and his commitment to community service and servanthood.”

A crowd of Wright’s friends gathered for the adoption of the resolution and gave a round of applause after it passed.

Jim Wright waves to the crowd from his 1954 Ford fire chief car during Homewood's 2018 4th of July parade. He was active in the A’s R Us vintage auto club and was a regular participant in local parades and festivals. (Chronicle file photo)
Jim Wright waves to the crowd from his 1954 Ford fire chief car during Homewood’s 2018 4th of July parade. He was active in the A’s R Us vintage auto club and was a regular participant in local parades and festivals. (Chronicle file photo)

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