Obituary: WRIGHT, WILLIAM

Published: Monday, Sept. 1 2014 6:17 p.m. MDT

William Robert Wright1935 ~ 2012William Robert Wright (Bob) died peacefully at home on January 13, 2012 after 20 years with Alzheimer's disease.Bob was born on May 20, 1935, in Salt Lake City to Ralph Bassett and Afton Middlemiss Wright. He attended East High School, where he graduated in 1953 as valedictorian. From 1955-58, he served in the Swiss Austrian Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.Bob attended the University of Utah where he earned a B.S. in Geology in 1960 and affiliated with Sigma Chi Fraternity and Owl & Key Fraternity. He was also elected Vice President of the student body. In 1963, he earned a J.D. at the University of Utah College of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of Utah Law Review.Upon graduation from law school, Bob practiced law at Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough in Salt Lake City for 29 years, serving as managing partner, senior vice president and member of the board of directors and executive committee. He specialized in litigation, government relations, commercial law and antitrust. Bob enjoyed numerous legal distinctions, including University of Utah Law School Fellow and lecturer, Chairman of the Young Lawyers Section of the Utah Bar, ex officio member of the Utah Bar Commission, Master of the Bench of the Southerland Inn of Court, and finalist nominated by President Ronald Reagan for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth, Tenth and District of Columbia Circuits; the U.S. District Court for Utah; and the State of Utah.On August 6, 1965, Bob married Janet Clark in the Salt Lake Temple. They had one daughter and seven sons. Bob had an illustrious political career, serving as Chairman of the Utah Republican Party from 1977-79, the Republican candidate for governor of the State of Utah in 1980, member of the Council of Legal Advisors to the Republican National Committee, Legal Counsel to the Utah Republican Party, and member of the Oil Shale Environmental Advisory Panel appointed by Interior Secretary James Watt.Bob championed education. He served on Utah's State Board of Education from 1972-76, presided as its chair in 1974 and 1975, and then became Chairman of the National Association of State Boards of Education, representing the U.S. Department of Education as an ambassador to Israel and Egypt and at NASA's launch of the educational satellite at the Kennedy Space Center. From 1985-89, he served as a member and as chair of the Institutional Council (Board of Trustees) of the University of Utah. He also served on numerous boards of directors, including those of the Utah Opera, Ballet West, Columbus Community Training Center, Salt Lake County Association for the Mentally Retarded and South Davis Community Hospital. Bob cherished his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving on the Missionary Committee, as a guide at Temple Square, and in many teaching and leadership positions. From 1989-1992, Bob served as President of the Washington, D.C. North Mission. After his missionary service, he became a partner at Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn in Washington, D.C. He later became a partner at Holme Roberts & Owen in Salt Lake City.Even after he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease, Bob's desire to serve continued. He volunteered to work with doctors and nurses in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Study for Alzheimer's for eight years in Bethesda, Maryland, searching for a cure.After years of research and interviews, Bob co-authored David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, which was published by the University of Utah Press. In 2006, it won the Mormon History Association's Best Biography Award, the Utah State University's Evans Handcart Award and the Utah State Historical Society's Best Utah History Book Award.Bob was a brilliant presence, a towering and beloved figure in the lives of his family. More than anything, he enjoyed fly fishing, golfing, fishing trips to Yellowstone, watching his sons' various athletic events, pheasant hunting, boating at Lake Powell and trips to Laguna Beach. His love of the earth and all its landscapes germinated lifelong interests and passions in each of his children. His intelligence and ambition never overshadowed his generous, tolerant and open-minded nature. With an adventurous spirit, he always strived to be more, understand more, experience more. Eloquent and refined in his prime, in his decline he learned to live in the presence of absence. The disease that needed 20 years to take him never took his beautiful core. We carry it with us back out into the world he loved.Bob is survived by his wife, Janet; their eight children: Anne-Marie (Fred Lampropoulos), Robert (Pesha), Joseph (Cynthia), Jonathan (Carol), Thomas (Caroline), Charles (Meredith), Frank (Tiffany) and Michael (Lindsay); 18 grandchildren; and brothers Ralph, Richard and David.Services will be held Wednesday, January 18, at noon in the Monument Park Stake Center (1320 South Wasatch Drive), and visitors may come from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Visitation will also be available at Larkin Sunset Lawn (2350 East 1300 South) on Tuesday, January 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.