Ira Mae Willeford Wright was born November 17, 1945, in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma to Ernest Ira and Betty Mae (McGregor) Willeford. She passed away Friday, May 6, 2022, at her rural home near Wellston at the age of 76.
Mrs. Wright was raised in the Pauls Valley area and attended Union Springs, Jackson and Jefferson elementaries. She spent much of her youth working in her mother’s Pauls Valley business, Betty’s Café.
She wed Bill McKee in 1960. The couple had a daughter, Teresa Lynn. She later married Calvin O’Neal in 1964 and the couple had a daughter, Lisa Dawn. During her marriage to Calvin, he was ordained as an elder in the Missionary Baptist Church and his service as a pastor – and hers as a pastor’s wife – took the family to a number of churches in Oklahoma and Arkansas before his final pastorate in Wellston.
Mrs. Wright earned an associate degree from Seminole Junior College in 1984 before graduating with honors from East Central University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree. She was named outstanding student of the year in East Central’s counseling program as an undergraduate and went on to earn her master’s degree with honors from ECU in 1989. While a student at SJC, she was inducted into the Alpha Theta Nu chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.
As a licensed professional counselor, she spent much of her career working for Red Rock Behavioral Health Services in Oklahoma City. She was a national certified counselor, a member of the American Counseling Association, and the Oklahoma and American Associations for Counseling and Development.
In 1998, she received the Barbara K. Shelton Award from the Oklahoma Department of Human Resources, presented to an alumnus of the program who demonstrated exceptional counseling skills. Her volunteer efforts included working with victims of domestic abuse. In 2006, she was recognized for her work at Specialized Alternatives of Families and Youth of Oklahoma with its staff of the year honor. She retired in 2009.
After Calvin’s death in 1995, she married Weldon Wright on June 12, 1999. The couple loved to travel, and she visited 48 different states in the years before her death.
She was preceded in death by her parents; grandparents Henry and Debby Ann Willeford of Duncan and Willis Abb and Louvenia (Reynolds) McGregor of Pauls Valley; husband, Calvin O’Neal; and three siblings, Henry Willeford, Ameatha D’Andrea and Hugh Bostic.
Survivors include her husband, Weldon Wright, of the home in Wellston; daughters Terri Mitchell and husband Keith of Lawton, Okla., and Lisa McClain of Wellston; grandchildren Jeffrey Mitchell of Verdigris, Okla., Austin Jackson of Norman, Okla., Chase Mitchell of Lawton, Maecey McClain of Yukon, Okla., Garrett Mitchell of Lawton; Peyton McClain of Oklahoma City, and Koby McClain of Ada, Okla.; and five great-grandchildren.
A celebration of the life of Ira Mae Willeford Wright will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at Lehman Funeral Home in Wellston, Okla. A graveside service will follow at Whitebead Cemetery outside Pauls Valley, Okla., at 1 p.m.