John Flemming Wright
Waco’s first public utilities commissioner
Cotton palace Director
John F. Wright was born to a pioneer family of Mclennan County where his father was one of Waco’s first grocers. John’s brother Benjamin died in World War I at the battle of St. Etienne, France. John graduated from Baylor and then entered into the business world at the turn of the century.
Brother John was a civic leader in Waco in many ways. He served as Waco’s commissioner for the street department and the fire and light department. The fire and light department was the equivalent of today’s public utilities. During his time in that capacity, he led the way for public parks beginning in 1909. He was largely given credit for convincing the Camerons to donate the land that became Cameron Park but Wright also saw to the creation of numerous neighborhood parks around town. He also acquired Alessandro’s Band to play live music at the parks and on the river during summer months. In 1911, Wright acquired ambulances for the city’s use.
Wright helped organize Liberty National Bank where he was president from 1918 to 1923. His leadership was credited for the construction of the Liberty Bank Building which years later became famous for a devastating 1936 explosion. He rose to high ranks at a couple of different banks and his reputation among bankers was unsurpassed. By 1920, he had published articles and given speeches on various matters pertaining to banking, loaning, and other financial items. Upon retiring, Wright expanded his several farms located near Waco.
He was well known and active in the Young Men’s Business League for which he served as president. Wright served as director of the Cotton Palace during some of its most successful years.