Robert Jones Wright
July 14, 1927 – January 17, 2019
Robert J. Wright lived his life fully until January 17th, 2019. He passed away at age 91 at the same hospital he created 45 years ago, Medical City Dallas. Bob Wright was an only child born in Tulsa, OK, and spent much of his early childhood in Neosho, MO. After graduating from Neosho High School, he enlisted in the Navy and was placed in the Hospital Corps School for the duration of his service. After the war, while performing as a professional “Big Band" saxophone player in the 1940s, he got his first real start in healthcare by managing the business affairs of the Taylor and Riddle Clinic in Fort Worth and later the larger Southwest Clinic physician group in Dallas. The Clinic physicians were already feeling the inefficiencies of traveling to multiple hospitals from their office when notified their clinic was to be torn down to make way for a new high rise. The wheels were subsequently set into motion to create a new hospital that would also house physician offices and with all the elements needed by the physician group. Wright selected a site in far north Dallas because of favorable population growth for patients and access to physicians who lived in the area. The creation of Medical City had begun.
He insisted that quality be its cornerstone, both with the physical structure and the medical governance that would attract only the best and highly trained physicians. With an optimal medical staff, he knew patients would receive the finest level of care in an environment designed for the comfort and convenience of both physicians and patients. He wanted to create an efficient place of life and beauty rather than death and sorrow. As a result, he was credited as the pioneer of the “Medical Mall” concept that has forever changed the face of health care design. Throughout his many endeavors, Mary, his wife of 68 years, was by his side and the two made a powerful, impactful team. He always gave her credit for the artistic flair she brought to all of his development projects.
Ever a visionary, Bob was one of those rare individuals who possessed the ability to see a "societal need” and “fix” the missing element that was not working properly. It has been said that "he was a man who never settled for life as it was when he knew it could be so much more". He carried this philosophy throughout his career as his vision impacted a cross-section of industries. He was a man of his word, with many of his deals consummated by a mere handshake. As a longtime member of Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, he founded the Church’s Foundation and oversaw several church expansions and renovations. He saw the need for more efficient services related to private air travel and developed Business Jet Center at Dallas Love Field. Other ventures included development of Green Oaks Hospital, multiple other healthcare facilities, inpatient hospice services, banking ventures, real estate developments, aircraft avionics, and information technology services.
Education was one of his passions. He not only attended Texas Christian University as a student, but would later serve on the Board and Executive committee of the University for ten years. Bob and Mary’s generosity supported new buildings at TCU, including two dormitories, the Mary Wright Admissions Center and multiple endowed scholarships for students at TCU who wanted an education, but could not afford the cost. Additionally, he served as Chairman of the Board of Austin College in Sherman, TX, where he received an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Austin College was also the recipient of multiple endowed scholarships and the Wright Student Center. At Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, he and Mary established the Blair R. Monie Distinguished Chair in Homiletics, in honor of Dr. Monie's ministry. The Seminary also recently received the lead gift from the Wrights for the new Wright Learning and Information Center. Crowder College in Neosho, MO, received the Wrights’ support for new housing and auditorium facilities.
Bob Wright used the gifts and talents that God gave him to enrich life in his community and beyond. He is survived by his loving wife, Mary, son Michael G. Wright and wife Stacey, grandson Christopher Wright and wife Taylor, granddaughters Lauren Wright and Hannah Wright, Tara Samuelson and Mary Ashley Samuelson, son-in-law Keith Samuelson and wife Martha, and great-grandchildren Elliott, Wesley and Zola. Bob and Mary’s daughter, Kellye Samuelson, preceded him in death in 2004. The family wishes to express their gratitude to the physicians and nurses who diligently cared for Bob during the last days of his hospitalization at Medical City.
A memorial service for Robert J. Wright will be held at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2019, at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church Foundation, TCU, Austin College (Sherman, TX) or Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Austin, TX).
- Memorial Service Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Robert Jones Wright
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January 23, 2019
Sending sympathy, condolences, and warm thoughts to Mary, Mike and Stacey, and all the family at this sad time. Bob was respected by so many for his leadership in business and education -- and I know your family respected that in him too--but first to you, he was husband, dad, granddad. I think of his kindness and humility, his generosity of spirit, his laugh. I think the last time I saw him was the unveiling of Oscar Page Atrium in the IDEA Center at Austin College--and he seemed just delighted that the surprise to Oscar was pulled off so well. I have written many times in Austin College materials his comments about what giving to scholarships means, because I absolutely loved what he said and how it so perfectly epitomized what I saw in him (and Mary) . He said, paraphrased, that it wasn't about dollars, but about investing time and interest in the lives of students. Bob always seemed like someone I would have loved to have known better. ... I'm glad your family had all the years you had with him, but I know you want more, though not with him sick or hurting. We always want more. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD." Blessings to you all.
January 22, 2019
I was thinking about your wedding.
I was in grade school and it was like a Fairy Tale that came alive.
I had a scrapbook of your magazine Cover photos and modeling
pictures and it looked like a story that ended ‘ They Lived Happily
Ever After’. Then it continued for 68 years .
You were a great team and built an amazing life together.
I pray the joys you knew and the times you shared help comfort
I love you aunt Mary