It’s been both gratifying and fun to read the several articles published about Tom Wright’s retirement as executive editor of The Decatur Daily and that of wife Regina as metro editor. Their exemplary journalism careers, following their graduations from The University of Alabama, progressed together, although Regina’s was hampered in the ’60s, when women weren’t too welcome in the newsroom.
For all his success, tall, lanky Tom retains the humor and unassuming manner he had as a kid working in the back shop of the old Southern Democrat across the street from the courthouse.
The tale goes that Tom and his best friend, diversified-occupations students at Oneonta High School, came to the newspaper office to apply for jobs. Then-editor Rice Howard observed he couldn’t tell which of them was smarter so he’d just flip a coin. He did. Tom called it and got the job, which he later said he liked because he got to read the news first. He stayed on at the paper after high school graduation until deciding he wanted a career in journalism. The staff reluctant to see him leave, Tom entered the university, where he and Regina received degrees.
Tom was with The Tuscaloosa News and The Daily Home in Talladega for a time before he and Regina were employed by The Decatur Daily, bringing with them tenacity as investigative reporters.
When potential stories significant to the public surfaced, the Wrights are said to have hemmed them up, written them, and gotten them to their readers. The sometimes tritely used “fearless” must have described the two pretty well. It’s told that a threat against Tom’s life didn’t deter his search for information that needed to be uncovered. A wouldbe molester coming to the Wright home when Regina was alone went on his way upon her threat to splatter him against a nearby tree with her husband’s shotgun. Her story wasn’t interfered with either.
Needless to say, not all the couple’s work was so dramatic, but over their 31 years with the paper, they gained enviable reputations and editorial positions, and the Daily’s recognition continues to grow.
Tom and Regina co-received the University of Alabama College of Communication and Sciences’ Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1978. Tom is a past president of the APA Journalism Foundation and has served on the APA board of directors.
Now, looking back on successes and, doubtless, some frustrations, the two can do what retirees do – travel and spend time with the grandchildren, and incidentally with their children. The Wrights have two daughters and five grandchildren. Maybe they will also spend some time at the farm on Straight Mountain in Blount County where Tom grew up.