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True wealth not measured in dollars, cents

At just 32 years of age, Todd Evan Wright was the wealthiest man I have ever known.

Not wealthy in the material sense, but rich in the ways that really matter in life.

Dollars and cents are irrelevant when you are talking about currency of a different kind.

Todd was rich with friends, having more than many of us ever will. He had character, integrity and honor. The Ashland, Ky.-native also possessed a passion for life that was simply unmatched.

For someone with such a big heart, it is painfully ironic that it was that which failed him last week when he passed away suddenly.

As I sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the funeral home, I couldn’t help but crack a small smile. Hundreds of people had come together to celebrate Todd’s life, the attendance serving as a true testament to his legacy and the way he enriched the lives of his friends and family.

After I got the call last Monday, many people offered their condolences for the loss of what several people called my best friend. And he certainly was, more like a brother really.

But looking around at the service, I realized I was surrounded by his best friends. Each and every person felt just like me, all with hundreds of stories like mine.

That was one of many things that stood out about the exuberant young man who we affectionately called “Crazy Todd” in part for his shock of wild blond hair and in part for his willingness to fully live life.

Todd had an amazing ability to be everyone’s best friend.

In all the years we knew each other, I can count on one hand the times he got truly angry. It would be impossible to find a person who disliked him.

Even though I was a little older, Todd basically taught me how to drive a car. I think he had been driving his dad’s 1960s Cadillac since he was 10. Even though the silver Caddy was about three miles long, Todd could parallel park it in space I wouldn’t try to put a Volkswagen bug into.

He loved many things and cars were certainly one.

By far, the top of the list was his wife Sacha, his 4-month-old son Thai and his 13-year-old daughter Miranda.

Just a few weeks ago I had the chance to let my 7-month-old daughter play with Thai and I talked with Todd about what fatherhood had done for both of us. He was so proud of both his children, you could just see it in his eyes.

And now, all us “best friends” have a responsibility to make sure that little boy learns how special his father was. Our stories will be what he uses to shape his image of his dad.

The pain from losing a loved one is something that spans all barriers and unites people of all cultures, backgrounds, religious beliefs and demographics. We must all find the strength to move beyond the grief with the knowledge that we will be together again one day.

An old quote, from an unknown source, embodies how I think we should cope with losing a loved one.

“Love is stronger than death even though it can’t stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can’t separate people from love. It can’t take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.”

Todd Wright believed those words. He lived them everyday. And all of us who knew him are “richer” because of it.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.