Distinguished Jersey Breeder Tuffy Wright Passes Away

Obituary for Harold Burns Wright as presented by the family and Knight’s Funeral Home.

Harold Burns Wright, 94, died peacefully surrounded by family at his home on February 12, 2021, in White River Junction, Vt. He was born on September 28, 1926, in Hanover, N.H., son of Seaver David and Helen (Gillette) Wright. Harold was very proud of his deep roots in the town of Hartford; being a direct descendant of original settlers on both sides of the family.

Growing up during the depression could have been challenging but Harold enjoyed life on the family farm. He and his three brothers enjoyed fishing in the brook, riding their bikes down to swim in the river or picking strawberries to peddle door to door to earn money to attend the circus — after they got their chores done, of course. On Sundays, they would take a picnic and watch the Russtown Tigers Baseball Team. Harold was one of the bat boys retrieving fly balls from the hay field and running to the river to get a pail of water for the players. He often said, they might not have gotten a lot of new clothes but they always had plenty of food from the farm.

Harold’s first job was for the railroad — unloading government fertilizer for 50 cents per ton from the boxcars. As a senior in high school, Harold and some buddies enlisted in the service allowing them to stay and complete their last year at Hartford High School-graduating in June 1944. In the summer, he was bussed to Fort Devens, Mass., to await transport to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. After completing training, Harold was on a troop train headed to Colorado when V-E day was announced. The soldiers were so excited they almost tipped the train over. Harold was transferred to Orlando, Fla., and then to Virginia and given the choice of joining the Army of Occupation or going home. He knew he was needed on the family farm and headed home to Vermont.

Tuffy and his brothers, Edward and Donald, received the AJCC Master Breeder Award in 1995. Tuffy received the AJCC Distinguished Service Award in 1981.

On June 24, 1950, Harold married Maxine Harford in Windsor, Vt., (after getting some haying done) and they moved into his grandparents’ house on Maplerow Farm to start their family. The family grew quickly and Harold continued to work with his family on the farm and started as a Rural Route carrier for the Post Office. In August 1958, Harold was appointed Postmaster by President Eisenhower with 14 employees in downtown White River Junction. In the following years, he oversaw the building of the facility on Sykes Avenue and managed over 200 post offices in eastern Vermont and northern New Hampshire. He served as President of the National Association of Postmasters as well as President of Retired Vermont Postmasters. Thirty years to the day, he retired as Postmaster-with over 500 employees now working at the WRJ Post Office and returned to farming full time.

Being diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in 1992 never slowed Harold down. He continued to live life to the fullest. His love for the Jersey cow took him on many adventures and gathered many friendships. He showed and judged at fairs throughout Vermont, New England, Quebec and Ontario. Harold spent many years travelling with Jersey breeders from California finding Vermont heifers to ship across the country. Harold was a member of the World Jersey & Horticulture Society and proud owner of a “real” Jersey heifer on the Isle of Jersey. He was Past President and Director of the American Jersey Cattle Association and recipient of the two highest honors of AJCA-Distinguished Service Award and Master Breeder. Harold also was very active in the Vermont and New England Jersey Breeders Associations acting as Past President, Distinguished Service award winner and sale chairman. Sadly, on April 4, 2004, the Maplerow Jerseys were sold.

Family, travel and the Jersey cow were three of Harold’s biggest loves and he managed to combine the three for many adventures. Including, travelling to the 48 contiguous states and thirteen countries, attending the National AJCA Convention with Maxine, daughters, Ann and Donna, and grandchildren annually since 1972, including mapping out a cross country journey to San Diego in 2016. He was always a great Vermont Ambassador-waving to a passing car (“Now, they will think all Vermonters are friendly.”) and always travelling with Vermont maple syrup to be shared with friends, acquaintances, or any person that did a small act of kindness. Some of Harold’s favorite trips took him to visit the Queen’s Jersey Herd at Windsor Castle, attend the Royal Welsh Show, and tour the beaches of Normandy. But, his favorite place to travel was the Isle of Jersey, UK-a challenging place to get to but enjoying a Jersey Creme in Liberation Square or having supper with friends at the Pomme D’Or Hotel overlooking the harbor made it worth it.

After retirement, Harold also returned to his love of oxen. After owning and showing many pairs, he was very proud to win 2019 Best Pair Overall Show Steer and Oxen at Fryeburg Fair with his milking shorthorns, Jake and Gus. He often commented that his steers are better off than many people in the world-they have a warm, safe place to live and plenty to eat. Harold was an active member of the WRJ United Methodist Church attending regularly-including Zoom services up until last Sunday. He held various offices but also chaired the Steeple Fund and Elevator Committee making the church handicapped accessible, worked on many turkey suppers, auctions, and hosted several successful “Cow Drops”. In the community, Harold was a Past President of the White River Rotary Club, Co-Founder of the Hartford Booster Club to support local student athletes, and Member of the United Brethren Lodge #21 Masons. He was very proud of becoming an Everybody Wins! Reading Mentor at the White River School (formerly the High School he graduated from 60 years earlier).

Tuffy often caught up with fellow Jersey breeders at annual meetings and other Jersey events. Here he is pictured with two other recipients of the AJCC Master Breeder Award, Molly Goodrich of Molly Brook Farms (1994) and Alaire Palmer of Highland Farms Inc. (1997).

Harold will always be remembered for his love of family, curious mind, a lifelong learner and reader (reading the Bible cover/cover at age 91, at l east two newspapers, a daily devotion and more daily), his excellent memory, a prankster with a twinkle in his eye, attending his grandchildren’s events, NE Sport supporter, sitting in the bay windows, rocking on the front porch and waving at the passing cars, love of railroads and logging, enjoying the circus, his mongoose, being the first birthday call of the day, and his amazing work ethic.

Harold is survived by his children, Gail Wright, Harold Wright Jr., Richard Wright, Ann Cerasoli, and Donna Wright, all of White River Jct. Grandchildren Richard Wright II (Wendie), Abby Benoit (Joseph), Hannah Cerasoli and Alicia Cerasoli; Great grandchildren Ezra and Ethan Benoit and Molly and Weston Wright. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews and extended family.

Harold is predeceased by his wife, Maxine; their son, Bruce; and siblings David, Edward, and Donald Wright.

The family is very appreciative of the care Harold received from Dr. Royal Whitney, Dr. Ernst Oidtmann and Dr. Karen Loring over the last 70 years. A very special thank you to Diane and Lynne for helping Harold be comfortable and stay in his home to the end and VNH-Maryellen and Edison.

Due to COVID restrictions, there will be a private service followed by a Celebration of Life on June 19th at Maplerow Farm in White River Jct at 1-4 pm with a sharing time at 2:00. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Harold Wright, to the WRJ United Methodist Church, 106 Gates St., White River Jct., VT 05001 or to VT Jersey Breeders c/o Tom Pyle, 651 Rte. 22A North, Fair Haven, VT 05743.

Harold loved people. In his memory, share a story, call a friend, eat some ice cream or wave to a stranger.