Fish fry veteran enjoys work

Although she admits it can be tiring, Mary Wright looks forward to helping with the Knights of Columbus’ Lenten fish fries in Parkersburg.

Wright of Parkersburg has been working the Lenten tradition, which has raised about $100,000 for scholarships for local youth, since 1995. She has been joined at times by her husband, Bob, and their children Trey and Carmella.

Trey Wright, a graduate school student at West Virginia University, helped in the kitchen during this year’s first fish fry on Feb. 8.

Wright said she became involved with the fish fries at the suggestion of Sharon Sheridan of Williamstown, who still helps at the K of C hall fundraiser on Market Street.

Wright now supervises the 20-person kitchen crew at the Knights of Columbus during the Friday night fish fries, which number seven this year. The menu features fried and steamed shrimp, fried fish, coleslaw and french fries.

Knights of Columbus members boil the shrimp and thaw the fish the night before the fry.

People begin lining up at the Knights of Columbus, 1010 Market St., at 4:30 p.m. for the 6 p.m. opening of the fish fry, which also serves as a social gathering place for the community and ends at 9 p.m.

Wright advises people to visit the fries after 7 p.m. because of the longer wait for food around 6 p.m., when as many as 100 orders can be waiting to be filled. Most of the fries attract around 500 people, said Wright, who teaches trigonometry and algebra at Parkersburg High School.

About 75 pounds of white fish and 60 pounds each of steamed and fried shrimp were served the first Friday night.

“Mary’s job is one that not many people would be capable of doing efficiently,” said Mike Vierheller, “facilitator” of the fish fries. Working exclusively with volunteer help, Wright is able to handle any situation that might arise and make sure the 400 to 650 people receive their meals, he said.

“Mary has been such a leader for us for a number of years and we are lucky to have someone with her abilities,” said Vierheller, who has worked the fish fries since around 1985.

Wright said she intends to keep volunteering her time to raise scholarship money for area youth.

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The partygoers sang “America the Beautiful” and state songs, accompanied by Titus Canbe band members Bruce Haas and Mike Starkey, in a Marietta condominium along the Ohio River last Saturday night.

The celebration was a surprise party for Mexico native Rosaura Erazo de Sheng of Marietta, who two days earlier became a U.S. citizen during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Courtroom in Columbus.

Rosaura, a former Miss Mexico City who worked in television in Mexico, is married to Wei Sheng, a 1978 graduate of Williamstown High School who became a U.S. citizen from Hong Kong when he was 7 years old. The couple was married six years and eight months ago in Veracruz, Mexico.

For Rosaura, U.S. citizenship means a better life with freedom to learn, explore and to create, she said in an email from her husband. She could not do this in Mexico because of the violence related to narcotics trafficking and rampant corruption, the email stated. Citizenship also allows Rosaura to be with her friends and family in the United States and Canada.

Rosaura is looking forward to voting and becoming involved in charity work.

Wei said the surprise party allowed their friends from all walks of life, creed and nationality to join them in celebrating Rosaura’s attainment of American citizenship.

“We all are immigrants, directly or indirectly,” said Wei, who has a bachelor’s degree in international studies from West Virginia University. “The greatness of our country is reflected in the contributions from the diverse background of our citizens. America is still the greatest nation in this world and we will always be the leader with our innovations.”

Among those attending were former University of Tennessee football player Keith Denson and John Hughes, both of Akron, World War II veteran Richard Sabol, 88, of Williamstown, along with people who were born in Colombia, Chile and the Netherlands.

A U.S. flag was created on the red, white and blue cake served at the party. The cake carried the words, “U.S. citizen by choice … Mexican at heart.”

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com