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The Rev. Timothy Wright, gospel singer, dies

Grammy-nominated gospel singer the Rev. Timothy Wright died early Friday at Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center from injuries sustained in a devastating 2008 car wreck that claimed his wife and grandson. He was 61.

Wright's death was confirmed Friday by Jim Connell, spokesman for the hospital.

Outside Grace Tabernacle Christian Center Church of God in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where Wright had served as pastor, parishioners were absorbing his death Friday.

"He was a very special man. He was a teddy bear," said Alem Blount, 30, of Crown Heights.

"You could talk to him about anything and he would always listen," Blount said, struggling to hold back tears.

Wright, of Roosevelt, a singer and composer, was nicknamed " The Godfather of Gospel," "because if you were connected to him, musically, you were covered," said Bishop Eric Figueroa Sr., 55, of the New Life Tabernacle Church in Crown Heights.

Wright released more than a dozen gospel recordings, including "Come Thou Almighty King" in 1994 and "Been There Done That" in 1999, both of which received Grammy nominations for best traditional soul gospel album.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement he was "deeply saddened." In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Wright "a great New Yorker and a great American."

Wright had been hospitalized since the July 4 three-vehicle crash on Interstate 80 near Loganton, Pa. Police said a car driving the wrong way hit them.

Figueroa Sr., friends with Wright for 40 years, said Wright told him about the accident.

"He saw what appeared to be a car coming at him with no headlights. As soon as he said, 'Is that a car?' he said the next thing was the collision, the crash, the explosion and the tragic ramifications as a result thereof."

Betty Wright, 58, died in the crash, and D.J. Wright, 14, died in a hospital. John Pick, the driver of the other car, also was killed, and a passenger in a third car was injured. The Wrights had been returning from a church conference in Detroit. Wright was paralyzed in the accident.

A musical memorial service in Wright's honor is planned for May 3 at the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant. His funeral is set for May 4 at Pilgrim Baptist Church. He is expected to be buried alongside his wife at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.This story was supplemented with Associated Press reports.

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