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Remembering Jim Wright

Dr. Helbert-Green reflects on her personal encounter with former Speaker of the House, Jim Wright.

Jim WrightMany longtime Fort Worth residents are familiar with Jim Wright and remember him fondly as it was announced he passed away earlier this month, but his legacy remains. I received emails from my Dad, my brother, and several other longtime Fort Worth residents and now patients whom made mention and honored him with links and stories to share.  I shared with them my connection to Jim Wright, former Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Wright was the son of a traveling salesman, graduated from Oak Cliff High School in Dallas, attended The University of Texas and left to serve in the United States Army Air Forces during WW II. He became Mayor of Weatherford at age 23 and went on to serve congress for many years and eventually become Speaker of the House. Upon retirement he taught courses at TCU. He was a teacher and an avid reader. I learned recently that he developed macular degeneration in his later years.

When I was a high school senior I already had dreams of becoming an optometrist. I competed in an essay competition in which I spoke of my educational and career goals.  I spoke of such lofty little engineideas of finding a cure for myopia.  Needless to say I pursued the clinical setting rather than research and did go on to become an optometrist. Within the context of my essay I also mentioned some of my mentors, including my parents, and referenced the well-known Golden Book, The Little Engine that Could (of which I still keep a copy on my desk as a reminder of memories of my parents reading this to me as a child and instilling in me I could do anything I chose with determination.) I went on to win a college scholarship presented by the Fort Worth Optimist Club for this essay.

When I went to the luncheon that day to receive the award, there was none other than Congressman Jim Wright to present my scholarship and personally read my essay aloud, saying…”I thought I could, I thought I could.”

Today I am reminded of all those that made it possible for me to pursue my dreams when I was 18 years old.  The Fort Worth Eastside Optimist Club, my parents, and individuals like Jim Wright to be a servant leader to our district, our country, and to be a positive force and take time to encourage youth of the day. Jim Wright, known as an articulate and formidable orator, responsible for a multitude of legislation in his time in congress including the Wright amendment, a civil rights advocate, serving in the days of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administration.  Jim Wright was a visionary and instrumental in both the success of DFW airport as well as Southwest Airlines rising to success.