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McGill mourns Jim Wright

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Published: 3 Sep 2007

It is with terrible shock and deep sorrow that the McGill community has learned of the sudden death of James G. Wright over the Labour Day weekend.

To all our alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends...

It is with terrible shock and deep sorrow that the McGill community has learned of the sudden death of James G. Wright over the Labour Day weekend.

Jim Wright, Director of the McGill-affiliated Sauvé Scholars program and a governor emeritus of our Board, perished in a gas explosion along with former Sauvé scholar Meriem Maza, who was visiting Jim and his wife, Nancy, at their cottage in the Laurentians. Nancy Wright was seriously injured in the accident and is expected to recover. Our hearts go out to Jim and Nancy’s three children, Kathleen, Melanie and David, and their children, in this time of great loss and distress.

Jim had a long and warm relationship with McGill. He served as a highly dedicated governor of McGill’s Board of Governors (1997-2006), both as a representative of the Alumni Association and as a Member-at-Large. Most recently, he was named a Governor Emeritus beginning January 1, 2007, in honour of both his exceptional, long-standing service and commitment to the University and his ongoing contributions. While a governor, Jim served as Vice-Chair of the Board and as a valued member of both the Audit and Executive Committees, among others. He was, for years, a director and officer of the Graduate Society (now the Alumni Association), serving as president from 1992-93, and was chair of the McGill News advisory board on three occasions.

Jim was a graduate of McGill (BA’65) and the Université Laval law school. In 1969, he joined the law firm of Martineau Walker (now Fasken Martineau), where he worked for 30 years. From 1977 to 1979 he was the deputy director of the Compliance Branch of the Foreign Investment Review Agency. In 1999, he was appointed executive director of EPOC Montreal, an organization that provides job training for disadvantaged young adults. In 2003, he was appointed director of the Sauvé Scholars Foundation, which provides one-year study fellowships at McGill to young leaders from around the world. From 1991-99, Jim served the City of Westmount as a councillor. He also served as president of the Wexford Foundation and the University Club of Montreal.

Jim will be remembered by all of us who knew him with enormous respect and genuine affection. He loved his work with the Sauvé Scholars — both the program, which he helped found, and the scholars themselves. Every year, as a new group of young people arrived from around the world — Saguenay and Sierra Leone, Bhutan, Pakistan and Regina — Jim marveled at the wealth of talent, insight, experience and commitment in the latest group of scholars.

Meriem Maza, 30, came from Algeria as one of the first cohort of scholars in 2003. She had recently completed her MSc in science communication and was pursuing a career as a science journalist. Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies are with her family, her friends and the members of the Sauvé Scholars program. Ms. Masa had already left a mark here in Canada.

We in the McGill family share our grief with all who will miss Jim Wright at the Board of Governors and at Sauvé House, as well as with his former colleagues at Martineau Walker, many of whom were great supporters of his work at McGill and with the program.

We have all lost a friend.

Heather Munroe-Blum
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University

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