William Robert Wright

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For other people of the same name, see Robert Wright.

William Robert Wright (May 20, 1935 – January 13, 2012), known as Bob Wright, was an American attorney, Utah Republican politician, and co-author of the award-winning biography, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism.


Wright was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Ralph Bassett Wright and Afton Middlemiss Wright. He graduated as valedictorian at East High School in 1953, then served in the Swiss Austrian Mission of the LDS Church from 1955-58. He returned home to attend the University of Utah, where he was elected student body vice president. In 1960 he received his B.S. in Geology, then continued at the University to earn a J.D. in 1963. Wright worked at the firm Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough in Salt Lake City for 29 years, starting as a new graduate and eventually taking management and executive positions. Later in life he would become a partner of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn in Washington, D.C., and still later he was a partner at Holme Roberts & Owen in Salt Lake City. Wright married Janet Clark in the Salt Lake Temple in 1965. They lived in Salt Lake City and would have one daughter and seven sons.[1]

Wright's aunt was Clare Middlemiss, the longtime personal secretary of David O. McKay, who collected records of McKay's presidency for over 35 years. Through Middlemiss, Wright knew McKay personally. On one occasion as a young man, after Wright and his twin brother Richard had submitted their missionary applications but had not yet received their assignments, McKay saw them and told them that Robert would serve in Switzerland and Richard in England.[2]

Wright promised his aunt that upon her retirement or death, he would take care to preserve her records of McKay and have them published. Wright donated McKay's diaries, discourses and some other records to the David Oman McKay Papers, a massive collection held by the Manuscript Division of Special Collections in the University of Utah's Marriott Library. These and other materials were significant in the research of Prince and Wright's biography of McKay.[3]

Wright served the LDS Church as president of the Washington D.C. North Mission from 1989 to 1992. It was during that time in Washington that he met Greg Prince and began collaboration on their ten-year effort to produce the David O. McKay biography.[4]

Wright was a retired attorney who practiced law in Salt Lake City and Washington, D.C. His varied public service included serving as the chairman of the University of Utah's Institutional Council and as chairman of the Utah State School Board. Wright was also a lecturer and Fellow of the University of Utah Law School and held leadership positions with the Utah State Bar. President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be a finalist for the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.[1]

Wright was also Chairman of the Utah Republican Party from 1977 to 1979. He ran unsuccessfully as the GOP's candidate for Utah governor in the 1980 gubernatorial election. He died January 13, 2012 after a 20-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Obituary: WRIGHT, WILLIAM". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  2. ^ (Prince & Wright 2005, p. ix–x)
  3. ^ (Prince & Wright 2005, pp. xv–xvi)
  4. ^ (Prince & Wright 2005, p. xi)
  5. ^ Bob Wright, former Utah GOP leader, dies The Salt Lake Tribune, January 13, 2012