- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Hundreds gathered in Fort Worth on Monday to remember former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, who died last week at the age of 92.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (https://bit.ly/1Hdr1rm ) reports that those attending the funeral for the longtime Texas Democrat at the First United Methodist Church included Republican U.S. Reps. Kay Granger and Roger Williams and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

Wright represented a Fort Worth-area congressional district for 34 years, beginning with his election in 1954. He was the House’s Democratic majority leader for a decade, rising to the speakership in January 1987. He stepped down in 1989 amid an ethics investigation. He died May 6.

When Wright stepped down as House speaker, someone asked him where he planned to go and he responded: Texas. Longtime friend Paul Driskell recalled Wright saying at the time: “People there know when you’re sick, and they care when you die.”

Looking around the church, Driskell said, “You have validated Jim Wright. You knew he was ill, and you care that he died.”

During his decades in office, Wright dedicated millions of dollars to local efforts, from water projects to defense jobs. He was such a champion of this community that President John F. Kennedy once referred to Fort Worth as “the best-represented city” in America.

“Fort Worth is a great city today because of Jim Wright,” said former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost, D-Dallas. “We all owe him a great debt of gratitude.”

He became speaker in January 1987 and found success, including a bipartisan Central American peace plan that ended a decade of turbulence in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

But a House ethics investigation into complaints that he violated rules through outside business dealings ultimately led to Wright, who consistently denied wrongdoing, choosing to leave.

After leaving office, he and his wife returned to Fort Worth, where he remained active in the community - writing books, giving lectures, teaching political science classes at Texas Christian University and more.

The Rev. Tim Bruster described Mr. Wright as an encourager, someone who, while in office, worked to lift others up and carried on that tradition for the rest of his life.

“How many of us received notes from Jim Wright?” he asked as many in the congregation nodded and chuckled.

“He was a servant leader,” Bruster said. “His accomplishments were many.”

“Well done, Jim Wright, good and faithful servant.”


Information from: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, https://www.star-telegram.com

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