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Former Port Neches city attorney believed in justice for all

December 8, 2018

Harry Payton Wright, a fixture of the Jefferson County legal community whose career included stints as a lawyer, a municipal judge and the city attorney in Port Neches, was recalled this week for his commitment to the concept of justice for all.

“He wasn’t afraid to fight the big boys,” said his wife, Mary Wright. “But he’d fight for the little guys too. If somebody’s dog bit somebody, well, he’d take that in, too.”

“He took anything that came across his desk,” added his daughter, Lisa Gorman.

“I’d say, ‘Why did you take that (case)?’ and he’d say, ‘Because they needed help,’” Wright said. “Nothing was too big or too little.”

Harry Payton Wright died Tuesday at 87. The Port Neches native practiced law locally for more 60 years and also worked as Silsbee city attorney. He was a former president of the Jefferson County Bar Association.

In 2001, the Port Neches mayor declared April 17, “Harry P. Wright Day” in recognition of “his love for family, faithful service to his church and dedication to the betterment of the community in which he has lived and served.”

One of the first large projects of his career was heading a committee that studied and put together a 10,000-word report on the feasibility of annexing five industrial plants into the city of Port Neches.

“It was a very big deal for him,” said Mary Wright, his wife of nearly 65 years.

“His word — or his handshake, rather — was his bond. He had integrity — almost to a fault,” she recalled, sitting in their Port Neches home filled with antique furniture and family photos that included shots of the couple’s four children, plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wright was also recalled as a family man who loved the outdoors and all music, save high opera and hard rock. He played both the piano and the guitar, had a cattle ranch in Winnie and a hunting camp in Warren.

“I finally got him to where he liked to travel,” Wright said, recalling trips to Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Harry Wright was a Master Mason and he taught Sunday school and sang in the First Baptist Church choir. He also was the church’s lawyer. He was also the chairman for the 1957 March of Dimes, raising thousands of dollars for the fight against polio.

Harry and Mary Wright’s 65th wedding anniversary would have been Dec. 28.

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Port Neches, followed by Masonic graveside rites at Oak Bluff Memorial Park.



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