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Former Speaker Wright To Be Laid To Rest Today In Historic Cemetery

U.S. House of Representatives

WEATHERFORD, Texas — Former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright will be buried at a historic cemetery in his hometown of Weatherford that also serves as the final resting place of other famous Texans.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Wright family plot is only steps away from the grave of theater and movie star Mary Martin. And nearby is the gravesite of rancher Oliver Loving, mortally wounded by Comanches in 1867, and Bose Ikard, the former slave who drove cattle alongside Loving and rancher Charles Goodnight.

Wright died Wednesday at the age of 92. After his funeral Monday in Fort Worth, a motorcade will leave for City Greenwood Cemetery. Weatherford is about 30 miles west of Fort Worth.

At a 1997 dedication for refurbished City Greenwood Cemetery, Wright said he first attended a funeral there for a great-great aunt, “and the last funeral I ever will attend will be in this cemetery.”

“With the cowboys from the cattle trails, and the Civil War veterans, and the leaders from Texas and Washington, this is like a walk through Texas history,” Bill Warren, who has written a history of the combined city park-cemetery, said Friday as he used a brush to clean monuments.

Early 20th-century Gov. S.W.T. Lanham and son U.S. Rep. Fritz Lanham rest there, along with one of Stephen F. Austin’s original “Old Three Hundred” Texas settlers and a military Medal of Honor winner from the Union side.

Jonelle Bartoli of the Parker County Historical Commission called the cemetery an “outdoor museum” that draws out-of-town visitors, many to Loving’s and Ikard’s graves. “There are visitors here all the time for Mary Martin,” she said.

“But if they step out of a truck wearing blue jeans and cowboy hats, I know who they’re looking for.” Author Larry McMurtry always says the characters in his 1985 novel and 1989 TV miniseries “Lonesome Dove” are made up, but parts of the story vaguely track the lives of Loving and Ikard.

Wright, a World War II veteran who was a former mayor of Weatherford, represented a Fort Worth-area congressional district for 34 years, beginning with his election in 1954. Wright, often praised for his eloquence and oratorical skills, was the House's Democratic majority leader for a decade and rose to the speakership in January 1987.

He stepped down in 1989 while under fire for breaking House ethics rules. Wright said he hadn’t violated any House rules and vowed to fight the charges but his support among fellow Democrats quickly eroded. 

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