CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Lowcountry icon known for peanuts and his energetic, friendly personality has passed away.
Anthony Wright, known as "Tony the Peanut Man," died Tuesday, Charleston Police spokesman Charles Francis said.
Wright was 63 and died of natural causes, according to Charleston County Deputy Coroner Sara Senn.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg released the following statement:
"Tony the Peanut Man was a Charleston legend, not just for his delicious peanuts, but mostly for his infectious joy. At community events and Riverdogs games he brought smiles to our faces while he sang and danced his way into our families and hearts. He will be sorely missed."
Wright started his career in the shipping and receiving department of Lockheed Aerospace. But after the company downsized, he found himself without a job and homeless.
But that all changed when he met a man known for selling peanuts to the public who trained him. Wright added his trademark song and dance and began a new career that would span more than 20 years.
Since 1998, Wright has had his own line of peanut products and with his signature song and dance, bow-tie and basket in hand, he became a Lowcountry legend, endearing himself to fans and loyal customers at Joe Riley Park during RiverDogs games.
In May 2014, fans at Joe Riley Park received their own Tony the Peanut Man bobble-heads.
He was also a fixture at local high school and college sporting events and in the old market.
A fire destroyed Wright's peanut operation in April 2012, but as he surveyed the damage, he said he wouldn't cry about the loss.
"This is the only thing I have made a living on and I thank God for that," he said. "Maybe He's got a better plan for me in the future, who knows. We'll see what happens."
The community rallied around Wright, raising money to help him rebuild and get back to work.
"Sometimes you get emotional but you didn't know how many people care about you and think about you so the thing is I'm kind of blessed, man, and to look at the community coming together for a nut like me. What can I say?" Wright said the night of that benefit.