Politics & Government

Remembering Fort Worth’s Jim Wright

Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright speaks to visitors at his office on the TCU campus May 5, 2014 in Fort Worth.
Former Speaker of the House Jim Wright speaks to visitors at his office on the TCU campus May 5, 2014 in Fort Worth. Star-Telegram

Here’s what some people had to say about former Speaker Jim Wright’s legacy:

“The Jim Wright I knew certainly was a champion for the things which, without his help, would never have become a reality. Those things benefited all of us. He was passionate about civil rights and laws which favored the middle class. He knew how to work with leaders in the Republican Party in order to get things done – something he did over and over again. But you know what qualities I will remember best? He was kind and compassionate. He truly cared about the struggles of working people. He had an uncanny ability to understand and communicate. He loved people and ideas. Even as his hearing and eyesight and general health declined, he could still carry on a conversation and give you a spot-on analysis of the issues of the day – something he did every time we got together. ... I will deeply miss my mentor, but will miss my friend, and what he meant to me and our country even more.” — Steve Maxwell, former Tarrant County Democratic Party Chairman

“Few people have left more of an indelible imprint on Fort Worth than Jim Wright. ... He played a major role in the country, then he came back to TCU ... and shared his history and his intellect and his great perspective with hundreds if not thousands of students.” — Former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr

“America has lost one of its most distinguished and dedicated public servants, I have lost a great friend and mentor, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has lost a tireless advocate whose impact in the region has been broad and deep. From transportation and flood control to aviation and economic prosperity, Speaker Wright was a tremendous champion for North Texas.” — U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth

“He was beloved and no one in our city's history did more to shape the present and future of our community than Jim Wright.” — Pete Geren, who was elected to Mr. Wright’s congressional seat after he stepped down.

“I knew Jim Wright was my congressman before I entered the first grade — and that was not unusual for those of us who grew up in the Fort Worth area during the ’60s and ’70s. Jim Wright was not just a powerful and influential committee chair, then House Majority Leader, and then House Speaker, he was OUR congressman. He never lost touch and never stopped working for his district and the State of Texas.” — Matt Angle, founder and director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic research and communications political action committee.

“Although Jim Wright and I had a political tussle over the adoption of the Wright Amendment, our personal relationship remained untainted by our political dispute. I profoundly mourn the passing of my friend Jim while saluting his leadership that produced great benefits for both Texas and our Nation.” — Herb Kelleher

“Today, Fort Worth is safe from floods, such as occurred in 1949, because of the floodway and network of lakes that Jim Wright helped us get through the Corps of Engineers. He was instrumental in getting President Eisenhower to get the entire interstate highway system built on a plan without adding one cent to the national debt. Our interstate highway system in the Fort Worth area will always be a tribute to the man we kept in Congress for 34 years.” — Dee Kelly, a prominent Fort Worth attorney and friend of Mr. Wright.

“Jim Wright lived a full and extremely productive life. I counted him as a friend, supporter, and someone I admired for his commitment to people, his courage in pursuing his principles, and his skill as a political leader. He served his state, his country, and the House of Representatives well. To the end, Speaker Wright was focused on the issues and challenges that confront our people, the Congress, and our country.” — House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland

“When it comes to alumni who have accomplished great things in their careers, it’s hard to surpass Speaker Jim Wright. He spoke last year at our Alumni Awards Luncheon, and at the age of 91 and with some difficulty speaking, he still showed that incredible Jim Wright intelligence and wit. He was extremely personable; he never met a stranger. He was very loyal to Weatherford College and loved Weatherford as a whole.” — Brent Baker, WC Vice President of Institutional Advancement

“A skilled negotiator, captivating storyteller, great American, Speaker Wright was a Texas Democrat in every sense of the title. He was cut from the same cloth as Texas legends like President Lyndon Johnson and Speaker Sam Rayburn.” — Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa

Staff writers Anna M. Tinsley, Bill Hanna and Max B. Baker contributed to this report.