Weatherford Democrat

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November 22, 2013

Wright: ‘He was truly a beloved president’

On Nov. 22, 1963, former Weatherford mayor and Speaker of the House Jim Wright was this area’s congressman and spent much of that fateful day with and talking to JFK. Though now 90 years old, and 50 years later, his memories have not faded

By SALLY SEXTON

The name Jim Wright is known in wide political circles, from the Metroplex all the way to Washington D.C.

The Weatherford College alumni and former Weatherford mayor, who was a member of the House of Representatives, as well as Speaker of the House from 1967-1989, served under eight presidents in total.

But it was while serving under John F. Kennedy in 1963 that one incident forever changed his world — the assassination of JFK.

“It was a marvelous day in Fort Worth,” Wright, now 90, said of the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, when he greeted Kennedy in Fort Worth, one of his many stops in Texas as he prepared for his next presidential campaign. “It was an emotional high seeing our president, hearing him and his speech at the [Fort Worth] Chamber of Commerce breakfast. There was optimism and upbeat hope.”

According to Wright, Kennedy expressed his appreciation of the contributions from Fort Worth and Dallas in support of its safety and security, touching on the history of Fort Worth itself.

“He followed the history of Fort Worth during World War I and II, and the production of the first around-the-world planes, like the B-24s and the B-26s,” Wright said. “The General Dynamics plan had recently won a competition [against Boeing] to be the company to build some of our planes, so everybody was in a really high mood. In those days, this was a big boost for our economy.”

Following the breakfast, Wright, Kennedy, Texas Gov. John Connally and others hopped aboard Air Force One to head on to Dallas for the 13-minute flight from Carswell Air Force Base to Love Field.

“While on board, the president asked Gov. Connally and myself to come and sit with him in his private quarters,” Wright said. “He asked us to explain for him the pushes that led to the development of Fort Worth and Dallas and why the two towns were are different as they were.

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