Attorney Bob Wright, a player in real estate, hockey, horse racing and prizefighting, dead at 89 | News
Bob Wright served as a marine and personal injury attorney in southern Louisiana for six decades. But that was hardly all he did.
The Illinois transplant also served as president of the Louisiana Bar Association and the Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, chairman of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission and the Louisiana Racing Commission, and a member of the State Board of Regents.
But that still doesn’t include all of his activities. Wright also helped bring a minor league ice hockey team – the Ice Gators – to Lafayette and the fight for the heavyweight championship of Muhammad Ali-Leon Spinks at the Louisiana Superdome. And he developed a hotel on St. Charles Avenue where a future mayor of New Orleans would work as an employee at Xavier University.
His motivation for all of these activities was based on a longing for success, which in turn was due to the fact that he was one of eleven children growing up poor during the depression, said his son Dr. Forrest Wright, a Shreveport surgeon.
“Every time an opportunity arose, he took it,” he said. “His motivation was to go as far as possible by collecting as much knowledge as possible and using it. Every time you turned his interest changed, but when he got in he was all there. “
Bob – never Robert – Forrest Wright died Sunday at Passages Hospice in New Orleans of myelodysplastic syndrome, a blood disorder, said daughter Emily Wright. He was 89 years old.
Growing up to a single mother in the village of Fithian, Illinois, Bob Wright painted silos and worked at gas stations to support his family, Forrest Wright said of his father. “He didn’t want people to know where he was from, but he loved being an example of what people can achieve when they work hard. He always felt happy, but it wasn’t an accident. “
In addition to working hard, the young man honed his basketball skills in hopes that his skills on the court would lead to a college scholarship, said Emily Wright.
It worked: he got a scholarship to Centenary College. After graduating, Wright went to New Orleans to attend law school at Tulane University. There he was selected to serve on the Tulane Law Review and elected to Omicron Delta Kappa, a national society that recognizes college leaders.
After graduating and passing the bar exam, the young attorney started a job with a law firm in Lafayette under the direction of James R. Domengeaux, who served in Louisiana law and the US House of Representatives.
With Domengeaux’s longstanding legal, political and economic ties, Bob Wright could not have asked for a better lawyer, as his daughter said, “In a small town, the lawyer is the right person to talk to.”
That connection led to Wright’s involvement in a myriad of activities, including real estate, hockey, horse racing, and prize fights.
In 1978, Wright thought it “a good idea” to bring the Ali Spinks fight to the Superdome, said his son, who was then a sophomore student.
Bob Wright owned the Lakeview house where Ali lived before the fight, and he got his son a prime seat next to Sylvester Stallone and Liza Minnelli.
Ali won in 15 rounds. The excitement for the fight was more exciting than the fight itself, said Forrest Wright, who described it as “pretty mediocre”.
Bob Wright also developed the Maison St. Charles Hotel, which his daughter ran. Among the staff was LaToya Wilder, later LaToya Cantrell. “She was good. She had a lot of energy, ”said Emily Wright. “She was very kind.”
“I often fondly recall my days as an employee at Maison St. Charles and appreciated the connection with Mr. Wright and his family – especially his daughter, Emily, the hotel owner who was my boss but also a great friend.” Cantrell said in a statement. “May Mr. Wright rest in God’s perfect peace.”
There were failures, but Wright’s son said they didn’t worry him. “He’s never had a setback that he considered a loss,” said Forrest Wright. “All it was for him was a change of direction.”
“He was definitely a half full guy,” said his daughter.
Not all of his activities were this high-profile, said Richard supplement, CEO of the Acadian Ambulance Service and longtime friend. “He felt sorry for other people. He did many things in a reluctant manner. “
This included legal assistance to the Diocese of Lafayette in the early days of the sex abuse scandal and advice to people who couldn’t have afforded a lawyer, Supplement said.
“He was always the type that every bellhop, bartender, and waiter seemed to love because he could connect with them,” he said. “He had a connection to his roots where he could never talk to anyone.”
Wright, whose legal career included litigation related to BP’s oil spill and action against Big Tobacco, retired in 2018 and became a full-time New Orleanian after years of commuting between New Orleans and Lafayette homes.
He was inducted into the Lafayette Bar Association Hall of Fame and a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. He was also elected to the Centenary Athletic Hall of Fame.
Survivors are his wife, Gaynell Wright; a son, Dr. Forrest Wright, of Shreveport; a daughter, Emily Wright, of New Orleans; a sister, Shirley Dalide, of Bradenton, Florida; and a grandchild.
His first wife, Mary Holt Wright, died in 2006.
The Lake Lawn Metairie funeral home is responsible for incomplete arrangements.
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