Don Woodard: A golden voice now belongs to the ages

Now Jim Wright belongs to the ages.

The golden voice and silver tongue that once through Tarrant halls

The cause of the common man plead,

Now lies mute forevermore,

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Bushy eye-browed Speaker Jim Wright is dead.

And while the great and wise decay

And all their trophies pass away,

Some sudden thought, some careless rhyme,

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Still floats above the wrecks of Time.

Ah memories! Back in 1960 he and I were delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles that nominated the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. Standing outside the Convention Hall during a brief interlude in convention affairs, Jim was smoking a cigarette. He smoked lots of cigarettes before he quit. He quit too late. Damnable tobacco! I hate you!

We sat on the platform in Burk Burnett Park in September 1960 when Senator Kennedy came to Fort Worth in the presidential campaign.

We both attended the Kennedy inauguration on snowy January 20, 1960, where JFK proclaimed: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

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We both with our wives, Betty and Wanda, attended the famous breakfast on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Fort Worth before the infamous and dastardly event in Dallas later that day.

And we both attended the funeral of the assassinated president three days later in Washington, D.C.

Jim and Betty and Wanda and I celebrated November 12 as our wedding anniversary. And then there was the tie that binds. At a Washington Democratic rally in 1960, Wanda said, “Jim, that certainly is a beautiful tie you are wearing.” And there in front of Congressmen and Senators, Congressman Jim Wright pulled that tie off and handed it to Wanda. And over the years he has taken off probably a dozen ties and handed them to her. The last one he gave her was at Colonial Country Club last Christmas. I will wear that tie to his funeral.

What Shakespeare wrote 500 years ago applies today to Jim Wright:

And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars,

And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be

In love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.

Jim Wright, good and faithful friend, sleep well. We will remember you.

Don Woodard is a Fort Worth businessman and author of Black Diamonds! Black Gold!: The Saga of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.