Charlie Wright may not have been a renowned figure in the metropolitan area, but he was indeed well known in southern Prince George's County.

On Jan. 20, at the age of 59, Charlie Wright succumbed to a 10-month battle with lung cancer.

Charlie never did smoke, drink or say a discouraging word. I remember him once telling me: ''I didn't even much fool around with gals, until I met Bailey'' -- his wife of 27 years.

Charles Wright was truly a great coach and physical education teacher in the P.G. school system. I consider it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with him. He was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He easily gained the respect and admiration of his students and colleagues. Even during the last six months of his illness, Charlie continued to coach Surrattsville High's soccer team to a winning season.

Charlie Wright was known for his devotion to children. He and his wife had three children, but they were also foster parents to seven others, eventually adopting two of them.

Charlie's symbol, the green-and-white Surrattsville jacket, will truly be missed. It seems almost unfair that such a great person has been taken away. But this was part of God's master plan for Charlie. As do many students, parents and fellow teachers, I mourn the loss of Charlie Wright. He will never be replaced.

SHELLEY POWELL Seabrook