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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Father of The Wright Amendment passed today.
James “Jim” Wright Jr., the former U.S. Congressman and Speaker of the House from 1987 through 1989, died Wednesday morning the age of 92.
Wright was at the center of several major Dallas/Fort Worth undertakings, including the DFW Airport and a multitude of government contracts that protected the area’s mainstay aerospace industry. During his serving in the 12th Congressional District, Wright helped in securing needed flood control projects and downtown Fort Worth revitalization ventures. He was best known across the Metroplex for the Wright Amendment, a law which previously restricted air travel from Dallas Love Field.
He worked with seven Presidents. They included John F. Kennedy, who Wright convinced to visit Fort Worth in November, 1963. He was in the presidential motorcade when Kennedy was assassinated.
After an ethics inquiry spearheaded by then-Rep. Newt Gingrich, Wright resigned during his term as speaker in June of 1989. Calling the year-long House Ethics Committee investigation into speaking fees and gifts an “agonizing experience,” Wright maintained his innocence, reiterating 20 years after the investigation that he was “convinced” no laws or House rules were violated.
Wright was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1954; he was re-elected 17 times. Prior to that, he served as mayor of Weatherford.
He was a confidant of Lyndon B. Johnson, who served in the U.S. Senate before becoming vice president in 1961.
At the age of 19, Wright volunteered for the U.S. Army just 3 weeks after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. At 20, he was flying combat missions in the Pacific. He frequently volunteered as a scoutmaster, boxing coach, and Sunday school teacher.
Wright is survived by his wife, Betty, and four children.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said she knew Wright personally and recalled that even during his time in Washington, he always remembered his roots.
“He was there when Kennedy was shot. He was good friends with John Kennedy and John Connally and really witnessed an incredible amount of history,” she said. “But he always kept Texas in his heart.”
Pete Geren, who succeeded Wright in Congress, and who went onto serve as the Secretary of the Army in 2007 through 2009 said, “He was a leader for investment and infrastructure and transportation, water, aviation around the country. he was a go-to, if not the go-to guy in Congress when it came to transportation.”
“Look at all the jobs and people he brought to Fort Worth,” said Fort Worth attorney Dee Kelly. “That’s going to be a lasting legacy for him. Hard to repeat what he’s done for Fort Worth from that standpoint.”
Kelly called Wright a friend for 42 years.
“He was a kind man, considerate man and Fort Worth owes him a debt of gratitude. I hope they remember him well because he deserves it.”
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