U.S. Rep. Ron Wright dies at age 67

Bill Spinks
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
U.S. Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington) visits the Waxahachie Daily Light offices in December 2019. Wright died Sunday night of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 67.

U.S. Congressman Ron Wright, who continued to represent Ellis County in Washington despite his battle with stage-4 lung cancer, died Sunday night of complications from COVID-19. He was 67.

Wright’s spokesperson confirmed Wright’s death Monday morning. Wright is the first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19, although a congressman-elect, Republican Luke Letlow of Louisiana, died of the disease days before his swearing-in.

“Congressman Wright will be remembered as a constitutional conservative. He was a statesman, not an ideologue,” a statement released by Wright’s office said. “Ron and Susan dedicated their lives to fighting for individual freedom, Texas values, and above all, the lives of the unborn.

“As friends, family, and many of his constituents will know, Ron maintained his quick wit and optimism until the very end. Despite years of painful, sometimes debilitating treatment for cancer, Ron never lacked the desire to get up and go to work, to motivate those around him, or to offer fatherly advice.”

Elected officials sent their condolences.

“Ron was a passionate public servant and a strong advocate for Texas values, his neighbors in North Texas, and constituents across Texas’ 6th District,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn said. “A sixth-generation resident of Tarrant County, he was a Texan first and foremost, and we saw that every day as he put his community first.  My heart goes out to his wife, Susan, and his children and grandchildren, who I hope find solace in his legacy of service.”

The state's other senator, Ted Cruz, added: “Heidi and I are saddened to hear of Congressman Wright’s passing. Ron was not only a dedicated public servant, a principled conservative, and a proud Texan, he was also a loving father and grandfather. Ron’s life is a testament to his unshakable faith and now he rests with the Lord, having fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. Heidi and I send our heartfelt prayers and condolences to Ron’s wife Susan, their three children, and nine grandchildren as they grieve his loss.”

A special election will be called to fill the vacant seat.

Wright, a Republican, was a stage-4 lung cancer survivor who had been fighting a re-emergence of the disease. On Jan. 21, Wright announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been in quarantine at his Arlington home for the previous six days. Because of his quarantine, Wright was unable to attend the Jan. 20 inauguration of President Joe Biden in Washington.

Wright spent eight days hospitalized in Dallas last September due to pneumonia-related complications from his cancer treatment. In an interview with the Daily Light in June, Wright said he was recovering from non-COVID-related viral pneumonia after a stay in the hospital.

Wright was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018. In July 2019, he announced on Facebook that he was undergoing treatment for a re-emergence of the cancer, using chemotherapy and immunotherapy as well as radiation treatments.

Wright was first elected to the U.S. House in 2018, replacing Ennis Republican Joe Barton, and was re-elected to a second term in November. Before that, he was elected Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector in 2010 and held that post for six years before resigning to run for Congress. Wright also served from 2000-2008 on the Arlington City Council.

Wright is survived by his wife, Susan; his son Derek; his son Justin and wife Susan; his daughter Rachel and husband Jeff; his brother Gary and wife Janis; nine grandchildren; cousins and extended family.