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Gary Wallace Wright ’76

“Gary can’t be summed up simply, as he was far from a simple soul,” writes his partner Anna B. Collins, who so admired the dignity and grace with which Gary dealt with his illness. “He was intelligent, interesting, a man of courageous character and conviction, a wine connoisseur, foodie, avid traveler, bicyclist, biker, runner, opera enthusiast, and a ladies man.” 

Gary grew up in San Diego, California, and earned a BA from Reed in sociology, writing a thesis on ascription in modern societies with Prof. John C. Pock [1955–98]. He also earned an MBA from the University of Maryland in 1985. Gary shared his liberal views with those he met and favored civil and political liberties to help those who were underprivileged or exploited, Anna reports. 

In 2014, the city of Cincinnati recognized Gary for his accomplishments on behalf of the community, such as serving as chair of the successful campaign, Citizens to Restore Fairness, to repeal a charter amendment that prohibited passing laws to protect LGBTQ citizens from discrimination; and serving as first president of Queen City Bike, as a board member at Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio, and as demographer for the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and the United Way. 

In the last year of his life, he completed his first novel, which he had worked on for many years, including a year in London. As his illness progressed, Gary provided Anna with a memorial statement to share with others, which includes the following: “Do something to relieve someone’s pain or suffering: Feed someone who is hungry, provide someone with clothes and shelter who have none, comfort someone in emotional pain. Do it for someone who is the least like you that you can find, who shares nothing with you but your humanity.” 

In addition to Anna, survivors also include his sister Doreen, extended family, and friends.

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2015

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