Family of mayor who was found dead cites mental illness, depression

While police have not released a suspected cause of Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright’s death, his family on Friday issued a statement that mentioned mental illness and suicide.

“We are deeply saddened at his loss, and will miss his stories, his laugh, his stubbornness, and unique character that can never be replaced,” the family statement said, according to Observer news partner WBTV. “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.”

Rudy Wright Charlotte Observer file photo

In lieu of flowers, the family requested donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Hickory.

Wright was found dead at his home Thursday, Hickory officials said. City Manager Warren Wood said the cause of death does not appear to be suspicious.

By law, city council must appoint Wright’s replacement in open session, although the city said Friday no date has been confirmed. A new mayor will then be elected through the regularly scheduled mayoral election on Nov. 7. Mayor Pro-Tempore Vernon Tarlton has temporarily assumed mayoral duties.


Joe Marusak and LaVendrick Smith