On August 15, 2019, the Virginia War Memorial Foundation lost one of its dearest friends when C. Kenneth “Ken” Wright died at the age of 94 in Richmond.
Raised in then rural Chesterfield County, Ken would hitchhike to downtown Richmond and work every day after high school to park and wash cars for a local automobile rental business. After service during World War II in the United States Army Air Forces, Ken returned to Richmond and went back to his high school employer. When the opportunity arose in 1954, he purchased the local Avis Rent-a-Car franchise. From his first location in the garage of the John Marshall Hotel, he expanded his business to include offices in fourteen cities across Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. After forty-five years of hard work and great success, he sold the business in 1999.
Not content to rest in retirement, Ken Wright made philanthropy his second career. He supported a variety of causes, including Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Virginia, where several programs and buildings bear the name of Ken and his late wife Dianne as a result of their generosity.
However, perhaps no cause was as dear to his heart as was the Virginia War Memorial Foundation. Ken Wright supported the Memorial for many years, believing that its educational programs that teach children about the importance of service, sacrifice, and patriotism were vital in our constantly changing society. In June 2018, Ken committed to donate $5 million to ensure that the Memorial will be able to offer these valuable educational programs in perpetuity. This commitment is the largest single gift ever made to the Foundation. And as a result, it was only appropriate that the dramatic expansion of the facility should bear his name forever: The C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion.
Ken Wright’s War Memorial family will miss him dearly. But it is some comfort to know that we will do our important work every day in a facility that bears his name and carries on his generosity of spirit.
The Richmond Times Dispatch article remembering Mr. Wright can be found HERE.