Muriel and Jesse Wright, 93 and 94 respectively at the time I shot this photo, pose for a portrait in their home in Littleton on February 12, 2014. Not long before taking this photo, the Wrights had been recognized by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter organization as being the longest-married couple living in Colorado. They were married on Aug. 2, 1940.
Their grandson, Jeff, nominated them for the “longest-married couple” award, and helped arrange a time for myself and Joe Vaccarelli, one of the YourHub reporters, to come interview and photograph them and learn about their lives together. They were lovely. When they first started dating, Jesse had one of Muriel’s friends run recon, and make sure she was interested in him. When she agreed to go on a date, he picked her up in his brother’s borrowed car and off they went to a basketball game. Said Muriel about the longevity of their relationship, “I don’t think there’s any secret…. We get along pretty good. We have our ups and downs, nothing is perfect, but we’ve never really had any problems that we couldn’t sit down and talk about.”
Nine days before their 74th anniversary — that is, this past Thursday, July 24 — Jesse passed away peacefully in his sleep.
This portrait isn’t the best photo ever to be made, but as I read an email from Jeff, who notified Joe (who forwarded the message on to me) of his grandfather’s passing, it reminded me of the great privilege we have as journalists. We are invited into the homes and lives of so many people. We are entrusted with their stories to share with the wider community. They give us their faith to be true to that story.
Sometimes I can take it for granted that each of the photos I make mean something to someone. Maybe they aren’t the grand stories of international import that flood our senses, but they are meaningful to the people involved. And I think the same can be said of all the small interactions each of us encounters every single day. From making a really fantastic cappuccino for a customer, to painting a mural on the side of a building, to singing an operatic tune that always makes my heart alight, to writing a fine essay or organizing library books on a shelf so a child can find just the right tale to inspire their adventures. Each of these gestures are vital to another person, they impact someone else. They can make all the difference.
It was an honor to meet the Wrights. It’s an honor to do what I do. I hope you each feel the same about the service you bring to your own communities.
Rest in peace, Jesse.