HICKORY -- A celebration of life is being held on Monday for former Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright who was found dead in his home on Thursday.

In a statement his family indicated he may have taken his own life.

The event began at 11 at Union Square in Hickory. The family is receiving friends on Monday afternoon at First Presbyterian Church.

After leading the city of Hickory as mayor for 16 years, many in the community came to know and love Wright.

The Arts Council said he was a big advocate and supporter of bringing culture to the city, and chamber leaders say Wright was dedicated into improving the city he loved.

If you or someone you know needs help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Here is the full statement from the family:

Rudy Wright passed away on May 11th.  Rudy was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many; in these initial hours and days of celebrating his life, we, his family, deeply appreciate all of the kind words and stories from so many that he touched.  We would like to thank the first responders to the scene, the community of Hickory, and everyone who has extended their love and support to our family, especially Rudy's wife of 49 years, Donna.  He was a man of intelligence and passion, as evidenced by his years as a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and public servant.  Rudy loved every minute of his 16 years as mayor of Hickory, NC.  He loved being a part of community events, meetings, ribbon cuttings, and anything else that helped to make the community of Hickory a better place to live.

We are deeply saddened at his loss, and will miss his stories, his laugh, his stubbornness, and unique character that can never be replaced.  Mental illness and depression affect so many regardless of one's position in the community, or the size of one's smile.  If you, or someone you know may be considering suicide, please seek professional help.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Hickory.  More details about a public memorial to follow.​