Bill Wright is a Texas photographer, author and businessman. He splits his time between Abilene and Fort Davis.
For thirty-five years Bill Wright was a petroleum marketer, organizing Western Marketing, Inc. and serving as its CEO. During his business career, he was responsible for many marketing innovations in his industry including establishing the first magnetic card retail gasoline dispensing system. He was a member and president of the Texas Old Marketers’ Association. He was a stockholder and board member of KTAB-TV and KWKC radio, and he also organized the TV cable service of Abilene, serving as its first general manager. Bill was voted Abilene’s Outstanding Citizen in 1986 by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and later, Outstanding West Texan by the Texas Chamber of Commerce. In 1989, Mr. Wright sold Western Marketing to his employees and directed his interests toward writing and photography.
In the publishing arena, Mr. Wright organized Historic Texas and Contemporary Texas, two books of photographs published by The Texas Monthly Press, and The Union Guide to Texas Photographic Collections, published by the Texas A & M University Press. In addition, he has written and/or photographed nine books. Two of these, The Tigua: Pueblo Indians of Texas, winner of the Border Book Award, and The Kickapoo: Keepers of Tradition, are part of a series on Texas Indian tribes. Portraits from the Desert: Bill Wright’s Big Bend, is a collection of photographs and essays on the Big Bend of Texas. His fourth book, People’s Lives: A Celebration of the Human Spirit, was published in the spring of 2001. The Texas Outback: Ranching on the Last Frontier was written in conjunction with photographer June Van Cleef. Rounding out the list of his published books are Fort Phantom Hill, A Bridge from Darkness to Light, Oman: Land of Diversity and Authentic Texas: People of the Big Bend. His latest book is The Whole Damn Cheese: Maggie Smith, Border Legend.
Mr. Wright’s photographs reside in many public and private collections including the British Library in London; the National Museum of Art in Washington, DC; the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin; the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York; the Princeton Collections of Western Americana in Princeton, New Jersey; the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth; the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington, DC; the Southwest Writer’s Collection at San Marcos; the Museum of New Mexico, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Mr. Wright served his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, on the Advisory Board of the College of Natural Sciences, on the Committee of 125, on the Board of Directors for the Harrington Foundation Endowment. Mr. Wright also served on the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Council as a director and as chairman.
Mr. Wright also served as a member of the University of Texas Press Advisory Council and as a Commissioner on the Texas Commission for the Arts. He was a member of the Board of Managers for the School of American Research in Santa Fe. Named to the National Council for the Humanities by President Reagan, Bill served as a board member of the National Trust for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the Philosophical Society of Texas and has served as its president. In addition, Bill Wright served on the Executive Committee of the Texas State Historical Association. He presently serves on the Advisory Council of the Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University and is currently on the Board of Visitors for the McDonald Observatory. As a member of the Hardin-Simmons University Board in Abilene, he’s held positions as a Director and has served on the Executive Committee. He served on the Abilene Independent School Board in the mid 1960s. Bill has also served on the Advisory Board of the Texas State Technical College – West Texas Campus.
He is an instrument rated, multi-engine qualified pilot, a scuba driver, amateur radio operator (N5DCI), a member of the Explorers Club of New York City, and a member of the First Baptist Church of Abilene.
Bill Wright was married to photographer Alice Everett Wright who died in 2018. Their daughter, Alison, is a civic volunteer and photographer in Midland and their son, Mitchell Wright, is a landscape architect and photographer in Austin. They have six grandchildren and an eighty-pound Standard Poodle named Rio..