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W. Mich. sharing thoughts and memories of late Bill Wright

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - People across West Michigan are sharing their thoughts and memories on the passing of Bill Wright.

The Kalamazoo businessman and head of the organization Wright for Kids died in Florida Saturday.

His friends are now looking back on the man who gave so much to the area.

The man with the bigger than life personality made one of his last public appearances a few days before Christmas; and as was so often the case with Bill Wright, the kids and their families were his focus.

"What we try and do is make one day in their life super special," he told Newschannel 3. "They came in and had a great x-mas dinner, got the gifts they wanted."

Bill Wright was known for many things, but none more than his catch phrase seen on TV commercials and billboards all around West Michigan, as the pitch man for Seeyle-Wright Automotive Group.

"Yes, we can!"

But the 54-year-old made a bigger contribution with his foundation Wright For Kids, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Community Healing Centers, and helping out abused and neglected children.

He was at the forefront of roof sit and the annual Rock Fest downtown.

"There's a lot of sorrow and that first stage of grieving and that disbelief and anger, confusion," said Sally Reames with the Community Healing Centers. "He was so much bigger than life."

Wright was always open about his abusive childhood and struggle with demons as an adult.

He recently sold his shares of the automotive group, and told friends he knew this would be a tough transition.

"He said, the next six months will tell, and it gives me shivers to think about it now but he said, 'Sally, I'll either be dead or I'll know who I am,' and I said Bill, come on, and he said, 'No my life has changed now. I'm no longer Seeyle-Wright.'"Reames said.

Funeral arrangements are still pending for Wright.