Columbus Attorney William J. Wright Passes Leaving a Distinguished Legacy

Columbus Attorney William J. Wright  Passes Leaving a Distinguished Legacy

Attorney William J. "Bill" Wright, Sr., born on March 4, 1940, in Columbus, GA, to Robert Lee Wright, Sr., and Pauline Talley Wright, grew up on 2nd Avenue surrounded by grandparents, aunts, and uncles, shaping his early years with warmth and familial bonds. Bill inherited his father’s determination, resilience, and strong will as he watched him initiate the first black bricklayers’ union in Columbus. But he also inherited his mother’s compassion and spiritual fortitude as he witnessed countless examples of her unwavering faith, empathy, and goodness.

After graduating from Spencer High School in 1958, he pursued higher education at Tennessee State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education in 1963. During college, Bill immersed himself in the tumultuous landscape of the civil rights movement. Despite the challenges of his time, he actively engaged in various civic activities, standing on the front lines of change. His involvement in sit-ins and community meetings wasn’t just a matter of principle—it was personal. As an African American man navigating a segregated society, he understood firsthand the importance of breaking down barriers. He embraced his role as an agent of change, determined to leave a lasting impact on his community and beyond.

Following his academic pursuits, he answered the call to serve his country by joining the United States Army and dedicated two honorable years to duty while stationed at Fort Benning, GA (now Ft. Moore), and Fort Ord in Monterey, CA. His military service instilled in him a profound sense of discipline and commitment, shaping his approach to life and his career.

He realized his lifelong passion for justice and equality by graduating with distinction from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in 1976. Bill returned to Columbus, GA, to begin his legal career in private practice and quickly established himself as a trailblazer in the legal community as one of few African American attorneys practicing in the area at that time. He embarked on a journey marked by dedication, integrity, and a steadfast commitment to justice. With a focus on criminal defense, he dedicated himself to representing the marginalized and underserved members of his community.

Throughout his career, Bill distinguished himself with his exceptional trial skills, successfully trying over 1,000 jury trials. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the legal profession, Bill was appointed as a Recorders Court Judge, where he continued to serve his community with distinction. Today his legacy of excellence is upheld through The Wright Legal Group, where he brought a wealth of experience to the law practice founded with his eldest daughter, Attorney Katonga Wright in 2011.

In addition to his legal practice, Bill was deeply involved in various community organizations and initiatives aimed at empowering African American communities and promoting social justice. He played a pivotal role in founding the Fountain City Bar Association, an initiative to foster camaraderie and support among African American lawyers in the Chattahoochee Valley region. He was also a Mason and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., as well as a dedicated member of 100 Black Men of America, where he worked tirelessly to uplift and inspire the next generation of leaders.

As a history buff, Bill found a passion for Civil War reenactments with the 54th Massachusetts Union Army, the first all-black regiment to serve during the Civil War.  His love for reenacting led to his Congressional appointment by the Secretary of the Interior to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission in 1990. 

Bill’s faith was also a cornerstone of his life. As a young boy, he was baptized at Friendship Baptist Church and was an original member of the Friendship Youth Organization (FYO). He later joined Bethlehem Lutheran Church, where he was a faithful member until his death. As an elder of the church, he provided solace and guidance to fellow worshippers. 

On May 16, 2024, Bill passed away peacefully at home. His legacy of excellence, integrity, and compassion will continue to inspire and guide all who had the privilege of knowing him. 

Bill is survived by Jessie Godwin Wright, his devoted wife of 47 years, whom he affectionally called “sweetie”; his son William J. Wright Jr; his daughters Katonga Wright Miley (Gerald), Kendra Wright, and Kameese Wright Walker (Jeff), who brought him immeasurable joy and pride; his grandchildren Aaron, Anthony, Hannah, Hailey, Austin, Alexa, Niashia, and Alyee, who filled his life with laughter and love; his sibling and lifelong best friend, Dr. Robert L. Wright Jr. (the late June Russell Wright), niece Dr. Kimberly Wright, nephew Russell Wright and close extended family members, who shared in his journey and treasured moments together; a host of friends, whose support and companionship brought him comfort throughout his life.

, his legacy of excellence is upheld through The Wright Legal Group, where he brought a wealth of experience to the law practice founded with his eldest daughter, Attorney Katonga Wright,

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