Gary Wright

Profile Updated: April 11, 2009
Address: Renton, WA USA
Spouse/Partner: Ellen Engelke
Occupation: engineer
Children (and grandkids?): none
E-mail address:

gary.wright@boeing.com

Current interests, hobbies, passions:

reading, travel, long distance running, scuba, guitar pickin'

Whatcha been doin' since '69:

I moved to Seattle in Sep 69 for my freshman year at UW. The daily chaos (protests, riots, etc.) made for a rough year. I returned to Spokane to work and attend classes at Spokane Falls CC. After earning a two year degree, I continued working a few years trying to get some $ together to return to school. Eventually, I enrolled at WSU; and received my BSME degree in Feb. 78. At the height of the jogging craze the preceding year, I began running for fun & fitness. I had no clue how profound an effect it would have on my life.

In March 78, I moved into an apartment in Renton and started work as a Boeing engineer. A year later, I moved to an apartment in Burien which was my home for 13 years. In March 92, I bought a house in Renton and still live there. My first 18 years at Boeing were in the design, build, and test aspects of the business; particularly developing automated test equipment for component, system, and airplane testing. In '96, I made a huge jump to the other end of the business: Provisioning engineering in customer support. I have about a dozen customers at any one time, from global legacy carriers to tiny two-airplane start-ups. I've been fortunate to travel occasionally to meet them for consultations.

Running-wise, I came to enjoy it more as I ran further (definitely not faster). I ran my first marathon in 81, first 50 miler in 84, and first 100 miler in 86. My first 100 mile trail run was the 88 Angeles Crest 100 in the San Gabriel Mts. northeast of LA (http://www.ac100.com/); and I enjoyed it so much I kept returning. I enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame in 92 when I ran 10 100 milers to break the old record (6) for 100s finished in a year. (For perspective - the current record is 23!)

In 99, one of my three LA friends who crew/pace for me at AC100 was unable to help. Cathy & Dwight recruited their friend "Ellen" to join the endeavor. Ellen was athletic and had finished a 100 miler herself so she understood the demands. She had the unenviable task of pacing me from the Chantry Flats 75 mile aid station. The first time Ellen & I laid eyes on each other was at CF at 3:00 am and I was at my best. I'd been running 22 hours; was tired, sore, stinky, covered in trail dust, and coping with a rebellious gut by periodic hurling. I restocked with food & water, and off we trudged for the 3000 foot climb up Mt. Wilson. At that pace, it's easy to talk and learn a lot about each other. I logged my first AC100 DNF (did not finish) when we missed the 85 mile cutoff time. My tradition is to take my crew out Sunday evening for dinner. Years later, Ellen told me she thought I "cleaned up pretty well."

In 2000, the three of them crewed for me once again, and Ellen paced me the final 25 miles to the finish. In the spring of 01, I called Ellen to reciprocate. She'd indicated interest in running the Cascade Crest Classic 100 (http://www.cascadecrest100.com/) around Snoqualmie Pass; and I volunteered to crew/pace for her. It was a struggle, but she finished in 31.5 hours. Several weeks later, I was back at the AC100 with Ellen, Cathy, & Dwight. All three were pacing me the last few miles of what had been a very difficult race. At 99 miles, in the 106F heat of Pasadena, I collapsed from hyponatremia. Ellen spent most of my two recovery days looking after me in the hospital. This was when it seemed that we were moving toward something more than friendship.

And we were. On November 1, 2002; I convinced Ellen to marry me. Scroll about halfway down to "Run with it": (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/lifestyle/160415_proposals13.html).

We had a destination wedding in Costa Rica in May, 2003. It was the first marriage for us late bloomers.

This is where the path from those 1977 laps in Pullman has led; and I'm very happy about it!

Funniest Mead memory:

I have so many memories, although a few probably don't exactly match reality. Nearly all are fond memories, some funny, and a few not. I remember the "radiator" gang: Doug Tolmie, Terry Joralemon, Gary Tilson, Ron Daniel, Doug Foss, Garon Rand, Ed Nelson, Elmo Phillips. I remember Terry's '55, Gary's '56, Foss' '57 and Elmo's '58 Caddy hearse. I remember a few weeks after graduation when Doug Foss & I went to the hospital to visit Gary after his wreck, only to have the receptionist tell us Gary had "expired" that morning. I remember Doug Tolmie springing us from a lot of afternoon classes to pose for pictures for ads for the annual.

I remember, as a sophomore, Kathy Kurowa "pantsing" me on the auditorium stage during a pep rally.

I remember Creighton "Craty" Welch recruiting me for the wrestling team by insisting I would fill an otherwise empty 93 pound class slot. A few weeks later, Joe Whitfield dropped down into my weight class and, for the rest of the season, cleaned my clock in weekly challenges. I remember Cash Stone changing me from a 91 pound weakling into a 91 pound athlete. I remember Tim Buck breaking his arm during one workout and earning the name "Fodderwing" because we were reading "The Yearling" in lit class. I remember great wrestling times with Roger Libby, Walt Kostecka, John Wilson, Tom Wood, Bill Clark, and so many others.

I remember good times in Explorer Scout Post 201 with Mike Lewis, Greg Peterson, and many others.

I remember Coach Weishaar getting a hole-in-one on Wandermere hole #2 ON A MULLIGAN! I remember a putt on #8 in a hailstorm that wouldn't fall because the dry hailstones it picked up on the way made it too big to drop.

I remember Stuart Shawen & I holding down the back northeast corner of Herr Schaffner's Deutsche classes three years straight.

I remember CK's new gold Caddy with the 500 ci engine; and his briefcase with 10,000 silver certificates; and his paddle which hacked his desk a lot more than it ever hacked cheeks.

I remember the nerd brigade (before the term "nerd" was invented): Mike Tomlinson, Dan Stoneman, Robin Gray, myself; "conducting" experiments in Mr. Brunnett's lab; most of which involved flames and/or smoke.

I remember big sister Linda's (MHS class of '67) chalk portrait of Lilac Queen Judy Swanson hanging in the hallway.

Fellow classmate you were fondest of (and why):

Tough one! I grew up with Royal Ingebretsen (our homes were two blocks apart); but work duties took his family to Billings during his high school years so he wasn't really a classmate. His family eventually moved back to Spokane.

Royal was the best man at my wedding.

What's your biggest regret from your years at Mead High School?

I regret not thanking my teachers for tranforming me from an ignorant lump of adolescent hormone-driven energy into a thinking, adult human. If any of them are reading this now, I'll take this opportunity and say, "THANK YOU!"

Teacher who made the greatest impact on you.

more later

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Posted: Dec 17, 2013 at 12:23 AM
April 2003
Ellen & Gary in Auburn CA the day before Gary ran the American River 50-mile race. We're practicing for our wedding, a month away in Costa Rica.