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Funeral information coming together for philanthropist Bill Wright

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Family and friends are preparing to honor the life of well-known Kalamazoo businessman and philanthropist Bill Wright.

A Celebration of Life service is scheduled for Saturday morning in Portage at the Valley Family Church, at 10:00 a.m.

The community is invited to attend.

Wright died suddenly at his home in Florida this weekend.

His friends tell Newschannel 3 he died of heart failure, and now those friends who knew him best are getting together to honor his legacy.

They say they want to honor Wright's 'larger than life' personality the way he would have wanted it--in a larger than life way.

Hundreds are expected to attend the service this weekend.

"I made sure I said 'the biggest,' because if it was just a big funeral, Bill wouldn't have liked that," said longtime friend Curt Wiser. "But if it was the biggest, then that's okay."

It will be a fitting tribute to the man with a large and beloved personality, as Valley Family Church prepares to celebrate Wright's life.

"There's a lot of sorrow, and that first stage of grieving, and that disbelief, and anger, confusion," said Sally Reames, with Community Healing Centers.

Wright was known for many things, like his catchphrase as the pitch man for Seelye-Wright Automotive Group.

But more recently, he was known for his Wright For Kids Foundation, which helped abused and neglected children.

"He loved life, and loved kids more than anything," said Deborah Droppers, with Wright For Kids.

The money he raised for those in need throughout West Michigan, marked what Sally Reames called "a legacy that will live loud and strong in this community and certainly Community Healing Centers for years to come."

Following the service, there will be a 'Victory Lap' for Bill, winding through the community he loved.

"Go past the dealership of course, continue through downtown Kalamazoo, and over to the Kalamazoo Kings, and circle back around and go through the neighborhoods," Wiser said.

The funeral will be held Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Valley Family Church, and anyone is welcomed to attend.

At noon, the public is also invited for Bill's Victory Lap, which will travel through Portage and downtown Kalamazoo.

The exact route is still being finalized.

Family is asking that rather than sending flowers, donations be made to the Wright For Kids Foundation.