Wallace A. Wright Jr., died peacefully, surrounded by family, on March 24, 2019 in Ogden, Utah after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Wally, the eldest child of W. Adrian and Edna Smith Wright, was born in Logan, Utah on February 19, 1935. His parents moved to Salt Lake City, where Wally’s independent youth was filled with skiing and ski jumping under the tutelage of ski pioneers, the Engen Brothers. His love of skiing endured throughout his lifetime. With his Yalecrest neighborhood friends, his summers included tear gas wars with munitions found at Fort Douglas and riding the family horse in the foothills to the east. He attended East High School and the University of Utah. He affiliated with the Beta Theta Pi fraternity where he made lifelong friends.
His adventurous personality led him to the United States Air Force, where he spent thrilling hours flying his F-86 fighter jet. Furthering his military career in the Air National Guard, he achieved the rank of Major, was a Command Pilot and flew KC97’s and C124 Cargo and re-fueling planes around the world.
He married Jeralynn Topham and together they raised six children. They were later divorced. He married and spent many happy years with Karen Schumann Marchant and loved her children and grandchildren as his own.
Wally’s professional career began in the Real Estate industry where he worked side by side with his father and brothers at W. Adrian Wright, Inc. Realtors. There, he found his passion for development, building many contemporary residential and commercial buildings throughout the Intermountain region. Wally served as a member of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.
Wally was an influential entrepreneur in the Salt Lake City and Park City communities, and a pioneer in adaptive re-use of historic structures. Wally served on the board of the Utah Heritage Foundation and Utah State Board of History, challenging the demolition of and promoting the preservation of significant historic buildings. “Trolley Wally” brought new life to Salt Lake’s dilapidated streetcar barns by creating the world-renowned festival marketplace Trolley Square. The original shops contained architectural pieces salvaged from buildings that couldn’t be saved from the wrecking ball. His success and creativity with Trolley Square inspired and motivated developers across the country to preserve similar historical structures. His vision also helped preserve landmark downtown office buildings including the Boston, Judge and Commercial Club buildings. Similarly, he was instrumental in the transformation of the St. Louis Union Station into a hotel, shopping and entertainment complex.
Wally’s keen interest regarding the Great Salt Lake and the potential tourism opportunities there spurred his involvement with the re-imagining and construction of the Saltair Resort, creating a waterslide, gift shops, a dance pavilion and other tourist activities. After the devastating floods of the lake in 1983, he was featured floating on his “liquid assets” in National Geographic magazine.
As an early member of the Salt Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Wally was involved with bringing displays of local photographic art to the Salt Lake International Airport. Visitors to Liberty Park still enjoy the park rides, merry-go-round and paddle boats that Wally set up there. Wally developed Park City's Alpine Slide and was proud to bring this unique activity to Utah. Wally always had his eye out for the new and unusual, bringing many of his ideas into reality.
Wally is survived by his children and their mothers, Jeralynn T. Winder: Wallace “Tri” Wright (Connie), Shauna Sloan (Brent), Merrick Wright (Annmarie), Jennefer Gillette (Steve), Devin Wright (Joslin), Laurel Smith (Ric), Karen S. Wright: Brandon Marchant (Amber), Sara Marchant (Marco Diaz) and Marilee C. Latta: Andrew Latta (Chelsea). He has 28 grandchildren and 8 great- grandchildren. Also surviving Wally are his siblings Gary (Ruth), Kent (Betty), Colleen Dibble (Jon), Carolyn Willey (Kimball). He was pre-deceased by his parents and brother Grayson (Mary Ann).
A gathering will be held at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 S. 900 E. on Thursday, March 28, 2019 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking provided on the north side of the building. The burial service will be held at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. A remembrance tribute will take place at The Falls Event Center at Trolley Square after the burial service at 12:00 Noon.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in Wally's name may be made to Preservation Utah by clicking the "donate" link above.
Please check back soon for tribute video.