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Hilton Head Native Who Fought Developers to Save Family Land Dies at 94

A 94-year-old woman who was at the center of a legal battle with a developer to keep her family’s ancestral land on the island of Hilton Head, S.C., has died.

The Hilton Head matriarch, Josephine Wright, died surrounded by her family and other loved ones on Sunday, her granddaughter, Charise Graves, wrote on a GoFundMe page that had been created to raise money for her legal battle.

The company that owns the development neighboring her property, Bailey Point Investment, had sued Ms. Wright in February 2023, claiming encroachment. The company said that her satellite dish, shed and screened porch trespassed on its land, which had “significantly delayed and hindered” development.

The lawsuit followed decades of land acquisitions that had displaced Black families with deep ties to Hilton Head as the tourism scene grew, with golf courses and waterfront vacation homes. The status of the case could not immediately be determined on Tuesday. Lawyers for the two sides could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ms. Wright previously told The Times that her husband inherited the 1.8-acre property from his parents, and it was put in her name after he died in 1998. It’s been a gathering spot and a place filled with memories for Ms. Wright’s seven children, 40 grandchildren, 50 great-grandchildren and 16 great great-grandchildren.

“Her legacy as a pillar of strength, wisdom and commitment to justice will forever remain etched in our hearts,” Ms. Graves wrote of her grandmother.

Ms. Wright’s legal battle caught the attention of celebrities, including Snoop Dogg and Kyrie Irving. Snoop Dogg donated $10,000 to the fund-raiser, and Kyrie Irving donated $40,000.

The actor and filmmaker Tyler Perry expressed condolences to Ms. Wright’s family in an Instagram post, saying he was “heartbroken” to hear of her passing.

“You have run your race and fought an incredible fight!” he wrote. “Journey well my dear lady. You have inspired me.”

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