Fort Worth

At Jim Wright estate sale, pieces of history

Public can buy bits of history at Jim Wright estate sale

Weekend sale includes history books, memorabilia collected over a lifetime in public service.
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Weekend sale includes history books, memorabilia collected over a lifetime in public service.

Like many estate sales, the one this weekend at the home of former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright is filled with mementos of a long life.

Beds, furniture and paintings fill the Overton Woods house. But also, pieces of history are for sale.

Wright, a Fort Worth institution who died in May, spent 34 years as a U.S. representative before resigning in 1989 during an ethics investigation.

Strewn across a table in his second-floor office are examples of a history of service to North Texas.

I think people will want to get a little piece of history. ... You get an insight into what he was thinking.

Paula Brittain, estate sale manager

Under one pile of books is a program from the Nov. 22, 1963, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast for President John F. Kennedy, just hours before he was assassinated in Dallas.

A few feet away sits a coffee table book in Russian with a photograph of the Kremlin on the cover. Inside is a handwritten inscription from former head of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, along with a typewritten English translation.

There are also photos of Wright with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. Inside one closet is an Obama-Biden campaign sign along with one touting Wendy Davis for governor.

“I think people will want to get a little piece of history,” said Paula Brittain, who is managing the estate sale. “I think some of the little things like his ties will go really fast.”

Some of the most historic documents have been donated to TCU, and Wright’s family members kept some.

Wright’s widow, Betty Wright, died in July.

During his last years, Wright was concerned with history. He made himself available to any scholars — young or old — who had questions about his role in politics. And he would pore over correspondence and books in his office, said his administrative assistant, Norma Ritchson, who is also the executor of the Wright estate.

He was an honorable man.

Norma Ritchson, executor of the Wright estate

“The most important thing to him was peace,” Ritchson said. “He didn’t know how he was going to achieve it but that was most important to him.”

Despite his resignation, Ritchson said, Wright always thought he was an ethical man.

“He always believed he had done nothing wrong,” said Ritchson, who worked for Wright for 35 years. “He was an honorable man.”

He was also a student of history, as his crowded bookshelves show. The shelves include biographies on presidents from Harry Truman to Lyndon B. Johnson along with one about another speaker of the house from Texas, Sam Rayburn.

“He loved history,” Brittain said. “You can see that from all of the books and letters around here. One of my favorite things was the handwritten inscriptions inside many of these books.”

In the letters, “you get an insight into what he was thinking. He tried to be polite, but he sometimes didn’t hold back.’ 

Typically, it takes about two weeks to prepare for an estate sale, but Brittain said it took two months to get ready for this one.

“And we’re still getting ready,” Brittain said. “This has taken eight to 10 people working all day for two months to get ready for this one.”

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

If you go

Jim Wright Estate Sale

▪ Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

▪ Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

▪ Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.

▪ 4767-69 Overton Woods Drive, Fort Worth, 76109