Every week between now and the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shootings, Orlando Weekly will profile a person killed on June 12, 2016. This week: Jerald Arthur Wright
Jerry Wright's mother says her son wasn't a genius in school, a good athlete or someone who stood out in the crowd. María Jose Wright says what made Jerry a beautiful jewel of a human being was his ability to love and care for others.
"He wasn't the life of the party, but he was the person who would make sure you were having a good time at the party," she says. "He was just a really sweet, loving spirit. He never missed a birthday and if anyone had a problem or need to get to the airport, he was always there. He was the one everyone could count on to be there."
Jerry Wright, 31, grew up in Miami. As a child, his mother says, he struggled with severe dyslexia and a speech impediment, and had to wear a full body brace to straighten his spine. But none of that stopped him from trying to communicate with others, even if he did misspell some words while doing it.
María Jose Wright says she thinks her son's love of making people feel special pushed him into a career in hospitality. After studying at Florida International University, he worked at Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. On June 10, her son called to tell her he'd been promoted at Disney. Two days later, Jerry Wright perished at the gay nightclub Pulse during a mass shooting. He was celebrating the birthday of his friend Cory James Connell, 21, who was also killed.
His mother says over 800 people attended his funeral, and she learned how kind her son was not just to her, but to everyone he knew. Xavier Navarro told mourners that his cousin would always "out-gentleman" him by immediately helping others. "One problem with Jerry before was that there was just not enough of him to go around," Navarro said. "Now we are all lucky enough to have him looking over us as our guardian angel."
María Jose Wright says after her son's death, her daughter named her newborn son Jerald after her brother. The family misses him terribly, but they're trying to honor his legacy by advocating for gun reform.
"He gave a lot of love to a lot of people in the 31 years he was with us," his mother says. "It just hurts that he was taken so soon. I miss him more than I can ever let anyone remotely understand."
– Monivette Cordeiro