William P. “Dub” Wright
Oil Executive, Longtime HSU BOT Chair
William Parker “Dub” Wright was born November 21, 1905, in Alvord, Texas. When he was a young boy, Wright’s family moved to Abilene where he attended school for a short time before the family relocated to Dallas and finally to Oklahoma. He graduated from Oklahoma City High School and then attended the University of Oklahoma to study medicine before changing to business administration and transferring to Baylor University.
In 1927, due to a reversal in his father’s business, a lack of funds forced Wright to give up his college career. He began work for Gulf Oil Corporation in Waco at the lowest rung of the ladder—a service station attendant. Despite the difficulties of the Depression, Wright soon climbed that ladder to the top. After a variety of promotions over the next several years, including salesman, auditor, and finally marketer in charge of sales for the north half of Texas, he resigned his salaried position and purchased the Gulf Oil Corporation distributorship in Abilene in 1935. Wright became a self-made oilman before the age of 30.
At his side during his rise to the top was his wife, Lillian Bruyere, whom he had met when they were both students at Baylor. They were married in 1929, and became the parents of three children, William Jr. “Bill” was born in 1933, and their daughters, Gayle and Linda followed soon after.
In addition to his oil concerns, Wright was active in other business ventures. In 1947, he purchased, with Bert Chapman, the Pontiac dealership in Abilene, Wright-Chapman Pontiac. He also served as president and director of the Citizen’s Broadcasting Company, which owned KWKC radio, and was a director of Oil Center Broadcasting Company which owned KRIG of Odessa. In 1949 he became a partner in the Abilene Truck Terminal, now known as the Tye Truck Stop in the Tye community, and in 1942 became a director of the Citizen’s National Bank.
Wright served as director of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce from 1939 to 1941 and from 1944 to 1946. As chairman of the Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee from 1941 until 1945, he spearheaded efforts to see that Camp Barkeley was located near Abilene during World War II. The military installation injected an additional million dollars into the local economy, providing a cushioning effect against drought common to the area.
In 1952, as an expression of their gratitude for his service to the community, Abilene named him the Outstanding Citizen of the Year, and in 1960 was honored by the Abilene Board of Realtors as the Outstanding Citizen of the Year. He was a member of the Abilene Lions Club, the West Texas and Abilene Chambers of Commerce, Abilene Country Club, West Central Texas Oil and Gas Association, and Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. He was a 32nd Degree Mason, a Shriner, and a charter member of the Abilene Petroleum Club. He also served as director and vice president of the Texas Petroleum Marketing Association. And Dub and Lillian were members of Abilene’s First Baptist Church for more than half a century.
In 1955, Wright partnered with his son to form Western Marketing Inc., a firm with wholesale and retail gasoline operations throughout the Abilene area and truck service centers in three states. When Abilene set out during the early days of the Korean War to secure a military installation, Wright was automatically a leader of the project. The connections he had developed in securing Camp Barkeley for the area paid off, and Abilene was chosen as the site for Dyess Air Force Base.
As a tribute to Wright’s efforts to bring the Air Force Base to Abilene, two Dyess facilities are named for him. The Wright Drop Zone is used by the 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing and the Wright Lodge is used by 96th BW alert crews for visitation with their families while on alert duty.
Long after Dyess was built, Wright continued to be its strongest supporter, remaining involved with the Dyess community. He received the Exceptional Service Award from the Air Force in 1965, one of the highest honors awarded to civilians. As an added display of Abilene’s appreciation for Wright’s strategic part in developing Dyess Air Force Base, the City Council changed the name of Arnold Boulevard, which carries traffic into the base, to Dub Wright Boulevard.
Wright also served in numerous fund campaigns which benefitted such organizations as the Red Cross, Community Chest, USO, YWCA, and YMCA. As a child, Wright had been a member of the first Boy Scout troop formed in Abilene, and as an adult served as chairman of the local Boy Scout finance committee in 1936-37, and was national council representative for the Boy Scouts in 1945.
Wright was on the Hardin-Simmons Board of Trustees from 1945 to 1976, fifteen years as chairman—the longest tenure of any HSU chairman. His chairmanship, which included all the presidency of Dr. Rupert N. Richardson, was a time of great advancement for the school.
Dub Wright passed away on June 20, 1985. His legacy lives on in the successes of Dyess Air Force Base; the community of Abilene, Texas, and in the halls of Hardin-Simmons University.
It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct W.P. “Dub” Wright into the HSU Hall of Leaders.