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Ed Wright to Receive WTAMU Distinguished Alumnus Award

May 21, 2013

COPY BY: Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@wtamu.edu

Ed Wright to Receive WTAMU Distinguished Alumnus Award

Second article in a series of three on WTAMU’s 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients

CANYON, Texas—He’s a leader in the cattle industry and well known for his ethics, strong moral values and knowledge. And when it comes to helping others, he has a heart as big as the state of Texas although he often prefers to remain anonymous when it comes to supporting a worthy cause. Ed Wright is the epitome of a generous, thoughtful man and the recipient of a 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award at West Texas A&M University.Ed Wright

Each year the WTAMU Alumni Association presents its Distinguished Alumnus Award to successful WTAMU graduates who contribute time and support to the University and to humanitarian causes. Wright is one of three recipients who will be recognized June 8 at the University’s 50th annual Phoenix Banquet.

Friends, colleagues in the cattle business and faculty members at WTAMU all sent in letters of nomination for the award, praising Wright for his integrity, success and leadership in the business sector as well as in the classroom and the humanitarian arena. Wright, always the first to offer a helping hand, is modest about the praise but pleased to be recognized by his beloved alma mater.

“I’m a little bit embarrassed and shocked by the award,” Wright said. “It’s an honor though, and I’m proud to be part of WT. It’s a fabulous school with a fabulous faculty. I wear WT everything, and I bleed maroon and white.”

Wright has a long history with WTAMU. He graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science, but his ties to the University go back even farther than that. His siblings are graduates as well as his mother. Plus, his uncle, Joe Fortenberry, was the WTAMU’s first All-American in basketball and captain of the 1936 Olympic team. That’s a pretty impressive history, and one that Wright is proud to claim.

While at WTAMU, Wright was an active member of Block n’ Bridle, Alpha Zeta, Lambda Chi Alpha, Rodeo Club, Livestock Judging Team and Dairy Cattle Judging Team. Between these activities and a busy class schedule, Wright also was a honor student. His college career provided the foundation for success in the cattle industry. He worked his way to head buyer for a national corporation in the cattle buying business when he decided to strike out on his own and return to the Texas Panhandle. He wanted to be closer to family, friends and West Texas A&M University. The decision proved to be a good one and today, he is a known leader in this highly competitive industry. 

“Ed has laid the foundation for our next generation to succeed in the beef industry,” Ed Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council, said. “He is one of our strongest leaders in the area of beef promotion, research and education.”

When he’s not working at his desk at home, Wright finds time to support various causes. He was one of the first financial sponsors for a 4-H club for youth who had previously been incarcerated. He continues to be a big supporter of 4-H and FFA students from across the Panhandle as well as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Eveline Rivers and his church. Anyone who knows Wright also knows he is proud of his alma mater and supports the University in countless ways.

He gives guest lectures each year at WTAMU, where he has donated both his time and money to alumni efforts in the Department of Agricultural Sciences. Wright and his wife Patrecia have established the Ed and Patrecia Wright Agriculture Support Fund, and he is an active member of the Agriculture Development Association and the Buffalo Club. And when it comes to athletics, count Wright one of WTAMU’s biggest fans. He is a season ticket holder and attends most University sporting events. He has donated money to WTAMU athletics to help with scholarships, team operating expenses and facility improvements. He’s also responsible for the volunteer efforts each year to feed the basketball teams during Christmas breaks.

“Ed has a big heart and is always willing to support a worthy cause, whether it is youth at risk or food for the elderly that can’t afford to eat,” Dr. Don Topliff, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering, said. “Many of his donations are anonymous because he doesn’t do it for the recognition. Ed Wright Cattle Company is one of the major buyers and sellers of cattle in the United States. His reputation is spotless, and he is one of the few people left that can do business on a handshake.”

Wright and fellow award recipients Cody Myers and J. Evetts Haley Sr. (posthumous) will be honored at the June 8 Phoenix Banquet during the University’s Summer Alumni Reunion (wtamu.edu/reunion). Reservations for the banquet are $40 per person. For more information or to make reservations, call 806-651-2311.        


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