As former House Speaker Jim Wright is laid to rest, many local folks remember their time with the Statesman fondly.
Jamie Bodiford-Brinkley was one of them.
“I remember [Jim] encouraging me to run for city council,” She said. “I was so privileged that he gave me the oath of office the night I was sworn in.”
She said she would go to Wright’s home as a child to play with their daughter and her best friend, Ginger Wright.
“Not only did Jim influence my life with both a love for public service and love of history, he actually saved my family’s life,” she said. “It was in the mid-50s when our home on 509 Harcourt caught fire.”
She said Jim rushed in to awake the family, getting them to safety while sustaining burns to his feet.
“Jim was just 23 years old when he was in the Texas Legislature and the youngest mayor Weatherford has ever had at 26,” she added. “He will be greatly missed.”
Gale Bradford said she used to called Jim Wright's parents Ma and Pop Wright.
“That house was magical,” Bradford said. “Ma Wright had an antique doll collection in a front bedroom and it was full of glass cases with beautiful dolls, most clothed in Ma's authentic lavish velvets and satins that she made by hand.
“I remember the house would sometimes fill to the brim when school was out for Jim, his sisters and friends. They were all handsome and laughing and full of life.”
Bradford said one of her most memorable moments came when Jim was mayor of Weatherford and he taught her how to drive.
“He had the patience of a saint,” she said. “Because my dad had a short temper and no patience at all, Jim took on the challenge of teaching me.”
She said Jim would pick her up in his car at her East Lee address in his “stick-shift car of some size.”
“I don't recall the make or model,” she said. “Things like that didn't matter at the tender age of 13.”
She said her mother didn't and wouldn't drive and as the oldest of three, a license for her was necessary.
“Thanks to Jim, that was achieved at a very young age,” she added. “He gave me kind and gentle instructions that I followed fairly well until we headed west at the intersection of East Lee and South Main.”
She said back in the day, that the South Main roadway was built up in the center, sort of "mound like."
“A low-slung unpaved ditch hid on the roadside before you reached the pavement,” she said. “A perfect place to wait for traffic to clear on South Main Street.”
She said it was also a perfect place for the car to stall every time she tried to ease up on the clutch and press down on the gas.
“Some lessons, I fear we spent 20 minutes at that intersection and it seemed like 20 years,” she said. “I just couldn't get the hang of it, or maybe I just didn't have coordination.”
She said, however, “Saint Jim” never lost his cool.
“He just kept encouraging me to make the gas pedal and clutch my friends,” she added. “No one smiled brighter when that friendship flourished some weeks later.”
She said next came the brake, a friend indeed when needed.
“I considered the brake my friend from the start because it kept me from hurting myself and one of the greatest statesman this country will ever know,” she said. “I'm happy to report I'm a good driver.”
She did however admit to running a stop sign in Austin, about 55 years ago, and that her only accidents actually occurred in her own driveway when she backed into a friend's car.
“She quickly forgave me,” Bradford said. “Problem is, I did it more that once. Happy to report no clutch or gas pedal was involved.”
Dr. Harold Lawrence said Wright was wise.
“Jim Wright was a man who knew the Constitution of the United States and as a legislator argued the Constitution in terms of its Preamble,” he said. “The very phrases of the Preamble enumerate the reasons for and the concerns of government, phrases Speaker Wright never forgot.
“Foremost in his thought was the necessity of a government to provide for justice, domestic tranquility, defense, general welfare and the Blessings of Liberty.
“To argue for a government addressing all these principles is the mark of a great American.”
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, Ext. 102