HICKORY, N.C. -- The family of Hickory mayor Rudy Wright released a statement Friday afternoon in response to his unexpected death.

Wright was found dead in his home on Thursday afternoon. Police have ruled out foul play.

The family's statement said:

Rudy Wright passed away on May 11th. Rudy was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend to many; in these initial hours and days of celebrating his life, we, his family, deeply appreciate all of the kind words and stories from so many that he touched. We would like to thank the first responders to the scene, the community of Hickory, and everyone who has extended their love and support to our family, especially Rudy's wife of 49 years, Donna. He was a man of intelligence and passion, as evidenced by his years as a successful businessman, entrepreneur, and public servant. Rudy loved every minute of his 16 years as mayor of Hickory, NC. He loved being a part of community events, meetings, ribbon cuttings, and anything else that helped to make the community of Hickory a better place to live.We are deeply saddened at his loss, and will miss his stories, his laugh, his stubbornness, and unique character that can never be replaced. Mental illness and depression affect so many regardless of one's position in the community, or the size of one's smile. If you, or someone you know may be considering suicide, please seek professional help. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Hickory. More details about a public memorial to follow.

Mayor Pro Tempore Vernon Tarlton will temporarily assume all of Mayor Wright's duties until the city council meets to determine a permanent successor.

The city will then elect a new mayor during its regularly-scheduled November election.