Joan Byrnes Wright
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Joan Byrnes Wright
  • March 4, 1934 - October 28, 2017
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Joan Byrnes Wright was born on March 4, 1934 in Norfolk Protestant Hospital (Sentara Norfolk), the only child of the late John E. Byrnes and Madeline Reitelbach Byrnes. She was married to Frederick R. Wright. Her children include John F. Wright (Karen) of Tampa, FL; Edward R. Wright (predeceased); David J. Wright of Fredericksburg, VA; Steven M. Wright (predeceased); and Catherine M. Wright (Cynthia Piccirilli) of Chesapeake, VA. Grandchildren include David Kristian Wright of Washington, D.C. and Brandon L. Wright of Virginia Beach, VA. She is also survived by her cousin John Murray and wife Barbara. For health reasons she attended boarding school for part of her primary education, first at Holy Cross Academy in Washington, D.C., then at St. Angela's Hall in Rockville, MD. She also attended Holy Trinity Catholic School in Norfolk, and graduated from Norfolk Catholic High School, class of 1952. She was a competitive figure skater, and at age 16 was judging at the national level. Joan was also a competitive equestrian. She enjoyed classical music, ballet, musical theatre, world and natural history. She graduated with an associate degree from the Norfolk Division of William and Mary/Virginia Polytechnical Institute in 1954 and received her B.S. in Secondary Science-Earth Science in 1971. She obtained a Masters Degree in Science Education from Old Dominion University, with a concentration in Secondary Science Education in 1981. Mrs. Wright taught in the Virginia Beach City Public Schools for 20 years, first at Brandon Jr. High for 13 years, selected as Teacher of the Year in 1988. She then taught at Tallwood High for seven years. Joan was a member of the National Science Teachers Assc., the National Earth Science Teachers Assc., the VA Assc. of Science Teachers, the Tidewater Assc. of Science Education, VEA, VBEA, and VBRC. She was an interpreter and naturalist at Seashore State Park (First Landing State Park) for 20 years, and served as a botanical researcher and frequent volunteer interpreter for Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Mrs. Wright was a field investigator for the VA Natural Heritage Program. She co-authored three articles in the Back Bay Symposium and published in the Rhodora Journal of the New England Botanical Society. In her retirement, Joan continued teaching, presenting genealogical methodology for the Virginia Beach Genealogical Society. She served the Society as president, and held multiple board positions. She gave many genealogy presentations at the Virginia Beach Central and Suffolk Public Libraries, and to high school science and history teachers. She was an often requested speaker and participated in workshops throughout the Hampton Roads area. Joan was a lifetime member of the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society, and was a member of Virginia Historical Society, National Genealogical Society, Tidewater Genealogical Society, Virginia Genealogical Society, NE North Carolina Genealogical Society, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society, and International Society for British Genealogy and Family History. A consummate student and teacher, she was passionate in her interests. A native of Norfolk and long time resident of Virginia Beach, she spent her last years under the care of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Assisted Living in Virginia Beach, VA.
Joan passed into eternal life on October 28, 2017. Her life was celebrated at a Mass of Christian Burial at the Catholic Church of St. Stephen, Martyr , Chesapeake, VA. She was buried in the family plot at All Saints Cemetery in Portsmouth, VA. She was a devoted mother, grandmother, cousin, colleague and friend. She will be remembered and greatly missed.