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A long-time Blount County leader is being remembered as a "good man" who loved the mountains.

Deputies found the body of Blount County Commissioner Gordon Wright, Sr., 69, on a trial on his Walland property Wednesday morning.

Sheriff James Berrong said he does not believe his death is suspicious.

Sheriff Berrong said Wright's family personally called him Tuesday around 5 p.m. and said they hadn't seen Wright since 10:30 a.m. but had found his Jeep abandoned.

The sheriff said it appeared the Jeep had hit an embankment and Wright was attempting to walk home on a trail. The search for him was suspended around 11 p.m. and resumed the next morning at daylight.

With the help of tracking dogs, deputies found Wright's body about a quarter of a mile from the Jeep in a ravine at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"I personally know his family which makes it very sad. We were looking, basically, for a friend up there in the mountains. A community leader, a county commissioner that has been very supportive of Blount County," Sheriff Berrong said.

The investigation into the cause of death is ongoing. However, the sheriff said, "It appears there is no foul play."

Wright's fellow commissioner, Peggy Lambert, said she enjoyed serving on the commission with him. She considered him a dear friend.

"I used to tell him he was my very favorite commissioner," Lambert said.

Wright served on the commission from 1982-1990 and was then re-elected in 2010. He was planning to run for re-election.

"He had strong convictions and he would fight for those convictions," she said.

Lambert said Wright developed the 600 plus acres of family land where he died into the Fence Rail Gap community. Wright was a descendant of one of the founders of Blount County, Col. John Tipton.

"When he talked about the Smokies and the outdoors, it was with a reverence. He loved the mountains. He grew up there," she said.

The commission chairman, Jerome Moon, said he fought to preserve the land.

He added they have decided not to cancel the regularly scheduled commission meeting Thursday. He said Wright "never missed a meeting" and was looking forward to a special Veteran's presentation they have planned. Instead, they will have a special moment of silence.

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