Ex-Delnor leader Wright remembered for commitment to hospital, community

  • Thomas Wright

    Thomas Wright

  • Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva

    Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine Health

 
 
Updated 4/16/2021 11:00 PM

Thomas Wright was just 30 when a former co-worker, Craig Livermore, made him an offer: Leave your job in Chicago and become the chief financial officer of a hospital in Geneva.

The two had only known each other a few years, starting when both had worked at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

 

So began a quarter-century partnership of the "Dynamic Duo" -- as some workers called them -- running Delnor-Community Hospital.

Wright, of St. Charles, died March 31 at age 65.

He started at Delnor-Community -- now Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital -- in 1986, as Delnor Hospital of St. Charles and Community Hospital of Geneva joined together.

Under the leadership of Wright and Livermore, the chief executive officer, a new hospital opened in 1991 on Randall Road. It was a once-in-a-career opportunity, Livermore recalled.

But more than erecting buildings, "He and Craig Livermore together really built this culture," where everyone at the hospital was valued, said Catherine Wierz, director of philanthropy for Northwestern Medicine. Wierz began working with Wright in 2008.

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Wierz says Wright "had a legion of followers" due to the pride he took in the hospital and the way he conducted business.

"He had a very keen intelligence, energy and compassion that were all the hallmarks of his leadership," she said. "His commitment to patients was always at the forefront of every decision he made."

Wierz said Wright had a constant brightness and optimism about him; she recalled hearing him whistling as he went about his work.

In the late 1990s, Wright became the chief operating officer of the hospital. When Livermore left, Wright was named president and chief executive officer of Delnor-Community Health Systems and the hospital. Delnor, as it came to be called, eventually merged with Central DuPage Hospital to form Cadence Health. Wright stayed on for a while as president of the hospital and executive vice president of the health system. He retired in 2012.

And while Wright was a gregarious person who enjoyed interacting with people, "he ran a lot deeper," Livermore said on Friday.

Wright was known for his deep Christian faith.

He was also admired for how he persevered after a shocking personal tragedy in 2001. Wright was shot four times when two teenage boys broke into his home one night, the day after a son had killed himself. The invaders were looking for cash the son had spoken about.

"He became more committed, particularly to other people," Livermore said.

"I think he really realized that he had a brush with death and I thought he kind of recognized that life was precious," he said. "He just really made his commitment to others of even greater importance in his life."

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