Sitting through the credits after Wall-E, I caught a line scrolling by something to the effect of, "In Loving Memory of Justin Wright, 1981-2008." I wondered who this person was, what was his affiliation with Pixar, what were the circumstances, etc. I guess I must have made a mental note of his name.
Well tonight, by what seemed like a complete fluke, I ran across his name and learned a little about Justin. I was scouring Michael Sporn's amazing blog, which at some point deep in the archives linked to Ronnie Del Carmen's blog, whereupon I scrolled down and was met with his post about Justin's passing. I would encourage you to read it (includes links to others' memories of Justin and some info on his memorial at Pixar) as well as Justin's Pacific Union College Alumni profile page.
That's right - PUC. I did a double-take when I saw that. Learning this and reading what people who knew him said about him kind of changed my view on the whole story. Of course it's always a tragedy when someone so young and full of potential is gone before it seems like they really had a chance to fulfill what they were capable of. But in the context of Justin's story and his own words it's actually quite inspiring and beautiful that he was able to achieve what he did in the time he had, and it's great to know he was really happy. I presume he grew up SDA as there was a comment from his youth pastor that mentioned his mom being a church school teacher. From what I gather he was a person of faith and most definitely made an impact on the lives of the people who knew him. I don't doubt that God placed Justin at Pixar - not only to fulfill his dreams and to see him happy, but as a witness to others by the example of his character. And I don't think it's any coincidence I stumbled upon the answer to the question that had sat in the back of my mind since yesterday.
Who was Justin Wright? Definitely someone I wish I'd known in this lifetime, but look forward to meeting one day. I'm really grateful to everyone who posted their memories of him for the benefit of those of us who weren't lucky enough to know him. Wandering the halls of Pixar strumming a guitar... that truly is the dream, and Justin lived it.