It was Sherrell Wright’s knack for recalling faces that helped catch a thief last year.
A sales associate in the jewelry department at the Northlake Mall Kohl’s, Wright knew that a man who had approached her counter a few times over several weeks was up to no good.
“She said he once came in and asked to see a ring, but she could tell he had something clutched in one of his hands,” said co-worker Janice Wilson. “But she remembered him and when she saw him again, she told me. The day he was apprehended (for shoplifting), she’d seen him and let the right people know.”
It was nothing special for Wright to remember faces, said her daughter, Carol Napier. It was part of what also made her a successful real estate agent while she lived in Mississippi.
“She loved to tell the story of helping catch the thief,” said Napier, of Atlanta. “And I was quite proud of her.”
Even before she received regional recognition for her detective work, she was one of the more popular associates at the store, Wilson said.
“She would bake all kinds of treats for birthdays and for potlucks,” her co-worker said. “She’d say, ‘Y’all just have at it.’ And we would.”
Wright had recently taken a few days off to travel to Mississippi to see friends, including one who was ill, Wilson said.
Sherrell Jean Wright, of Decatur, died suddenly Friday in Mississippi, after experiencing a massive heart attack. She was 74.
A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, Atlanta, in the Little Chapel. Glenwood Funeral Home, Vicksburg, Miss., was in charge of cremation arrangements.
Born in the Mississippi Delta, Wright moved to Atlanta six years ago with her companion of 20 years, Jack Jennings, Napier said. She had retired from her real estate career in Mississippi and wanted to be closer to two of her three grandchildren.
“Every recital or play, she was there,” Napier said of her mother.
Wright started working at the department store in 2008 and helped set up the jewelry department, Wilson said. Her eye for detail not only helped in identifying customers, but also in tracking merchandise.
“She could look at something once or twice and remember it forever, it seems,” Wilson said. “If something was out of place, she knew exactly what it was. She could pick up on things quick too. I’d show her how to do something and I’d only have to show her once, maybe twice. But then she’d have it.”
Napier said her mother enjoyed her job because it allowed her to meet people.
“She definitely enjoyed talking to people,” Wilson said with a laugh. “Sometimes I think she enjoyed it a little too much. A manager would have to remind her sometimes that she needed to move on to other customers.”
Whenever that happened, Wilson said, Wright would just smile and tell the customer, “Well, I guess we’ll have to talk about that later!”
In addition to Napier, Wright is survived by two other daughters, Sherry Campbell of Kissimmee, Fla., and Jennifer Wright Villarreal of San Antonio, Texas; sister Sandra Edwards of California; brother Lamar Strahan of Maine; and three grandchildren.