Funeral services have been set for Simeon Wright, the cousin of Emmett Till who witnessed his 1955 abduction before the lynching that horrified the nation and helped propel the civil rights movement.
Mr. Wright, a pipefitter who lived for 24 years in Countryside, died Tuesday after a struggle with bone cancer, said his wife Annie. He was 74.
They were married 46 happy years, she said. “It seems like yesterday.”
Her husband never wavered in telling Emmett’s story. “He told the truth,” she said. “It never changed.”
In his 2010 book, “Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till,” Mr. Wright wrote about his cousin Emmett’s visit to Money, Mississippi, where the 14-year-old Chicago youth became the target of racists for allegedly whistling at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant.
Mr. Wright said Emmett whistled to make his cousins laugh.
“To him, it was funny,” Mr. Wright said in a 2010 interview. “He didn’t get scared until he saw our reaction.”
Bryant’s husband Roy and another white man, J.W. Milam, were acquitted of Till’s murder by an all-white jury. They later confessed to Look magazine they beat and shot him and threw him in the Tallahatchie River.
Mr. Wright was sleeping next to Emmett when the youth was abducted. “J.W. was the first man I saw,” Mr. Wright later said. “You have to meet him to sense the evil in that man.”
In addition to his wife Annie, Mr. Wright is also survived by a sister, Thelma Edwards; brothers George, Robert and Willie Wright, and two godchildren, Aleasha Wilkey and Keith Christmas. Visitation is planned 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at Antioch Baptist Church, 7519 W. 64th St., in Summit-Argo. A wake is scheduled from 10 a.m. until an 11 a.m. funeral service on Sept. 16 at Monument of Faith Church, 2750 W. Columbia Ave., Chicago. Burial is at Parkholm Cemetery in La Grange Park.