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James Phillip Wright
March 8, 1944 ~ January 6, 2024 (age 79) 79 Years Old
27 Trees, Flowers, or Condolences have been shared with support of James's family - View on Tribute Wall
James Phillip Wright passed away unexpectedly in the early hours of January 6, 2024, age 79. "Doc Wright's" sage advice to all was, "Do what you love for life, and you won't work a day in your life." He lived it, loved it, every day until the absolute end. He was a compassionate Veterinarian, a passionate horseman, and spent every chance he could horseback trail riding with friends and as a member of the Pikes Peak Range Riders. In earlier decades Doc Wright was a respected and well-known horse judge in competitive trail riding throughout the Midwest and he was associated with the Missouri Trail Ride Association. He also trained and showed horses, played cowboy polo, and even rodeoed some over the years.
Jim was a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA.) As a classic old school animal doctor, Doc Wright treated all types and sizes of animals around the clock, 7 days a week and covered at least 100,000 miles/year, for 65 years, driving throughout the Midwest and then his beloved Rocky Mountains. His daughters' earliest memories include him resuscitating a dog mouth-to-mouth, treating a circus sick camel, laying in a pond pulling a calf-- always flying down the road on emergencies to save an animal, and perhaps bringing home zucchini or chicken eggs for paid services. The saved blind calf with two broken front legs was a challenge to feed, but was a contented family pet for many years.
He was "Cowboy Jim" to his grandchildren in his signature cowboy hats, boots and western belt buckle, and introduced them to western heritage, horses and music. He carried a wrinkled autograph from John Wayne in his wallet and spent his time teaching them to "cowboy up" in all things. He was old fashioned, one-of-a-kind, part of a dying breed, and a proud American.
Jim's childhood in Bakersfield CA is where he developed his early love of animals, horses, cowboys, nature, and the mountains. His high school career began in Grandview MO where he was a Letterman, vice president of the Science Club, and was successful in track, and the starting tight end on the 1961 Missouri State Champion Bulldogs football team. He graduated Grandview High School 1962, then Kansas State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 1970, settling in Harrisonville, MO where he raised his family and practiced large and small animal medicine. He returned to the mountains in 1992 in the Woodland Park, CO area before opening his last clinic, the Animal Care Clinic, in Lake George, CO. Heaven on earth for Jim Wright was his A-frame log cabin in Lake George, adjacent to government park lands, on his front deck overlooking his horses and Pike's Peak in the background.
Jim was born in Bakersfield CA to Phyllis (Elmore) Wright and Curtis Douglas (Doug) Wright on March 8, 1944, and is survived by his partner Tamra Freeman also of their home in Lake George CO. He is preceded in death by parents and siblings Carol Wright and Vernon Wright of Bakersfield, CA. Jim will be missed by his two daughters from first marriage to Erna (Land) Mayone: Kimberly Whitman (Oklahoma City, OK) and Kay and Harry Spencer (Weston, CT.) Cowboy Jim will be missed by grandchildren Kendra Whitman (Oklahoma City, OK), MacKenzie Whitman (Davenport, Florida), Kelly (Lawrence) and Jacob Spencer (Falls Church, VA), Rachel (Spencer) and Jake Dvortsyn (Bloomfield, NJ), and Zachary Spencer (Atlanta, GA).
In memory and honor of Jim, donations in lieu of flowers can be made to Pikes Peak Range Rider Foundation. P.O. Box 758, Colorado Springs, CO 80901-758, or www.pprrfoundation.wildapricot.org.. Jim was proud to be of a member of this outstanding group of professionals and horsemen upholding The Cowboy Way, dedicated to retaining western cultural heritage. The annual ride was his favorite time of the year, being a cowboy. The Foundation owns and operates the Latigo Trails Equestrian Center hosting equestrian activities year-round and focuses on youth events and activities that have a western, agricultural, and equine orientation.
A Celebration of Life is tentatively planned for Summer 2024.