Richard Wright: 1943-1998
May 26, 1943 - Dec 26, 1998
Goodbye to an Old Friend
by Tom Veal
Richard Wright, a friend for over twenty years and one of the best known Pacific Northwest science fiction fans, died unexpectedly last
weekend. A coroner's inquest determined that death was due to natural causes. Ironically, the heart problems that necessitated quadruple
bypass surgery several months ago apparently played no role in Richard's passing.
Richard was not only a personal friend (I am one of the few who knew him when he was young and thin and had hair) but an early and
enthusiastic supporter of the Chicago in 2000 bid. Had the race come down to a vote, he would have been a strong influence in our favor
among Seattle fandom. He volunteered very early to help with the convention, and his assistance will be missed. He and I had worked
together many times before, notably at MagiCon, where he was my principal assistant for site selection balloting, and at Bucconeer, where
he was one of the con office supervisors. He always worked diligently and intelligently, and his calming personality helped defuse many of
the tensions of a hyperactive Worldcon weekend.
Northwest fandom will remember Richard as one of the pillars of Norwescon and the Northwest Science Fiction Society. All who have
followed the fortunes of those institutions will agree that, as the last of their founders to remain active in local fandom, he provided both the
continuity and the leadership needed to meet the challenges of a turbulent era. He was most recently a leader of the Seattle in 2002
Worldcon bid, which was so unfortunately derailed by hotel intransigence. When I last spoke to him (at SMOFCon, where he looked
healthy in body and was certainly more than healthy in spirit), he was undiscouraged by this setback and was looking forward to a new
Seattle Worldcon or NASFiC bid.
Richard was, to my knowledge, the fourth member of Chicon to die. As an amateur actuary, I should like to point out that our mortality
rate is below what would be expected in an average population of the same size and composition. But the fact that others have not died
does not diminish the sadness over the loss of those who have.
I ask those of you who pray to remember Richard in your oblations and those of you who do not to commemorate him in some way that
will do him ease and grace.
Flowers for Richard
It's hard to describe my sense of loss at this news. It's just so difficult to believe that a person so full of life could be taken so suddenly. Of
all the people I've ever met in Fandom, Richard has always been the most sincerely inspired and truest to his ideals. And he's always been
a true friend in every significant meaning of the term.
I know I will miss his generous spirit, his kind words and gentle humor for the rest of my life. In many ways he was the best of what we're
all about. There's a lot more to think about and to say. Just not right now.
That first year that Norma and I were putting together Radcon, Richard helped us more in about two conversations than about any other
person. He just smiled and listened to our harebrained schemes and pointed out things we hadn't thought of but most of all he believed we
could do it.
Edgar and Norma Barrett-Lincoln
I know Deborah feels the same as I about the tremedous loss of Richard Wright. He was a great friend and an influence and guiding light
as us "East Siders" bid for and plan for Westercon 52.
Deborah and Daron Fredericks
There are few people in fandom who mean more to me than Richard. I know I'm not alone here.
Ever since I heard about Richard's death, I have been trying to think what to say about him. It isn't easy to put two decades of Northwest
history in one or two paragraphs. This evening, I was paging through my e-mail files from this year's MosCon and found a message from
Richard that really says it all: "I will be pleased to do those panels for you." ... "I will be pleased to help you." Richard was always willing to
lend a helping hand. Whether it was doing panels for a convention, offering advice to those of us foolish enough to try starting our own
conventions (yes, back in the Dark Ages, I got some of my first lessons on attending conventions, running conventions, and fandom from
Richard -- all at the same Norwescon), pitching in to help someone out in a crisis, comparing notes on how to run our conventions better,
or throwing the best party around, Richard was always there for his friends. His enthusiasm, his wide knowledge and experience, and
especially his friendship will be greatly missed.
It's difficult for me to imagine NW Fandom without him.
Richard Wright was a key member in the search for a second Seattle Worldcon. His willingness to spend his time and money was a big
reason why the bid almost made it in 2002. The parties held in his room, his schmoozing with SMOFs (and anyone else who would listen),
and his enthusiasm made Seattle a player in the Worldcon selection process. He has left a hole in Northwest fandom that will be impossible
In addition to the science fiction credentials Tom mentions, Richard was a key player in organizing the Seattle Artemis Society and played
many roles in the Northwest Science Fiction Society and its regional convention, Norwescon, including serving as chairman of both the
society and the convention for many years.
Richard was the first business manager for NWSFS, and taught me most of what I know about how to organize and run a non-profit
corporation. So all members of Artemis Society International have unknowingly benefited from his dedication and wisdom.
He worked in the Boeing Information Systems department for several decades, and was among my mentors in using computer technology
for team communication. His passing is a great loss, indeed.
Even if you didn't know Richard, please take a moment to reflect on the fact that everything we do builds on those who have come before
us. We stand on the shoulders of titans, and Richard Wright certainly earned his place among those titans.
Richard Wright was loved by so many of us in the Pacific Northwest SF community for many reasons, but perhaps the foremost was his
welcoming nature. He went out of his way to make people feel at home in our community, whether new to the area or to fandom, or
literally born into our group.
Richard supported SF fandom in its diversity, at local, regional, and national and international levels. As an administrator and guide to
decades of neofen, he encouraged fellow enthusiasts to create clubs, conventions, and friendships which promoted not just the interests of
the moment, but an enthusiasm for the possibilities of our lives and our futures. His appreciation of speculative literature, fantasy and SF
art, and creative gaming was infectious -- Richard enjoyed many ways of having fun, but even more he enjoyed introducing others to those
same joys of life.
Those introductions could equally well take the form of guiding first-time convention planners through the maze of concerns they needed to
be made aware of, to pointing out the subtle artistic touches which contributed to his and friends' enjoyment of Disney World rides, when
he vacationed with us just a few weeks ago.
Despite his recent medical problems, Richard never lost his joy in life. He was both an administrator and a Romantic, a serious student of
the history of speculative literature who delighted in costume and spectacle, and a dear friend to many, many people. They, including us,
will miss him terribly.
Leroy and Susan Berveni
NW fandom will miss one of the most helpful, friendly and encouraging people that we ever had and I will miss a mentor and a friend.
Richard has meant so very much to so many that the hole left from his passing will never be filled.
My fondest memories of Richard was that when I went to my first con (Norwescon 7) he taught me the Time Warp and Paradise by the
Dashboard Lights. He was my first con friend.. I'll never forget his goofy smile and his warm hugs..
I knew Richard for many years, enough so I am not sure when I first met him... it might have been at Norwescon 1, for all I know. He
struck me from the very beginning as a caring person, one who would be willing to put another's interests before his own. That impressed
me. He later impressed me with his knowledge of conventions and fannish politics (and his love for art), and I looked to him more than
once for input in those areas. To list all that he did for Northwest fandom will take someone far more astute than I; for me to tell of what he
meant to me would take better words than I'm capable of writing. I'm going to miss him a lot, of that I am sure. And I won't be alone.
While having strong opinions, he was never contentious and worked for consensus and the good of fandom. He will be sorely missed by all
fandom. His behind-the-scenes advice and mentoring helped both con coms and individuals. During the 10 years we have been in the area,
we came to value him as a friend.
Conrad & Jane Larsen - Lady Jayne's Books.
I will remember Richard for the enthusiasm, dedication and energy that he brought to fandom. His loss is a blow to us all but his life should
inspire us to his level of achievement. 'Til the next party my friend.
When I think of Richard, I remember his warmth, caring, and supportive hugs. To say that I will miss him is inadequate. I loved him.
Richard was one of the best. We need to keep him in our hearts. Hold on to and continue the many good things he did, so that his memory
will be with us for as long as we all are around. I also remember him as Jodi did.
Many people may have heard the strange tale of the 1995 NASFiC site selection election held at the 1992 Worldcon in Orlando. Richard
Wright was an unsung hero of that strange election. When a "snap" election became necessary, he stepped in and volunteered to assist me
running the site selection table as he previously had been doing for that year's Worldcon site selection. It was only because of him quietly
taking charge of the "grunt work" of keeping site selection running that I was able to deal with the more-visible issues of the strange
circumstances of that election, where a write-in bid for the median strip of Interstate 95 finished second, ahead of one of the "real"
candidates, and giving the eventual winner (Atlanta) a serious challenge. Richard's very valuable contribution as my assistant has been, until
now, overlooked, but not unappreciated by me. It was because of his good work and quiet competence in Orlando that I asked him to be
one of my two assistants running the 1998 Worldcon site selection in Glasgow. He took all of the morning shifts, allowing me and Tim
Illingworth to cover our other jobs as officers of the WSFS Business Meeting. His dedication contributed to a well-organized and
Richard and I were often in opposite camps for site selection purposes, due to the fact that fate (and WSFS and Westercon rules)
conspire to have Seattle and San Francisco oppose each other for Worldcons and Westercons. This political opposition was never
personal, and we always remained friends. I'm sorry we won't have the chance to work together again.
In reviewing one of my articles of a somewhat sensitive nature for the 1993 Westercon committee-zine "Voice of the Clam," he was able
to look at a sentence and realize how to reword it slightly so as to keep the essential message while changing the tone to be far less
Editor's note from Progress Report 3
This is what fandom is all about: people. Honoring those we love, loving in a way that mundanes will never understand.
Richard exemplified that kind of love, what Rogers called "unconditional positive regard" and the world seems just a little bit colder for the
lack of Richard's shining smile and healing hugs. I too will miss him greatly; he was my big brother (and a whole year older!) and what I
owe him could never be paid in this lifetime. The advice and support and help he gave me when I needed it the most should be passed on
to others, a living legacy of his love and committment to Fandom, so my flower to him is that I will pass it on.
Terry Fowler Patch
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