William Robert Wright

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

William Robert Wright (May 30, 1935 – January 13, 2012), known as Robert Wright, was an American attorney and biographer of David O. McKay. With Gregory Prince, he is the co-author of the book David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, which was named the 2006 Best Biography by the Mormon History Association.


Born in 1935,[1] Wright was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). His 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, after Wright and his twin brother Richard had submitted their missionary applications, but had not yet received their assignments, McKay asked how it was going 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. Mission from 1989 to 1992. It was during that time in Washington that he met 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. He lived in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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]