A larger-than-life Oak Bay resident has died.
Oak Bay Marine Group founder Bob Wright died in Victoria April 17 at age 82 after a brief hospital stay.
Raised in Edmonton, Wright began his working life in the newspaper industry there at the Edmonton Bulletin.
The self-proclaimed gumboot fisherman was soon lured to Victoria by the promise of great hunting and fishing. It was his love of the outdoors and fishing that led him to start a fishing charter business, now the Oak Bay Marine Group of Companies which includes 25 businesses in Victoria, the U.S. and Bahamas.
“Bob will be missed,” said long time friend Gordon Denford. “He was one of the people that brought Victoria forward into a nice city. He realized early on that tourism – apart from government – was the only way to sustain Victoria.”
Wright was one of the first commissioners for Canada on the Pacific Salmon Treaty; he earned the gold trophy marketing award from Industry, Science and Technology Canada for business excellence; the B.C. Ambassador for Tourism award and the Leadership award from the B.C. Marine Trades Association, among numerous others. In 2011 he was inducted into the Canadian Tourism Hall of Fame.
“He is well-known throughout the country and the U.S.,” said Denford. “Every business he was in offered the best and people came to it.”
Being a successful businessman was not enough for Wright, whose commitment to the community and the environment extended into an $11 million donation to UVic for scientific research on climate change and the creation of the Bob Wright Centre for Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
Denford said Wright “could be a hard-nosed guy” but also had a soft side. “He’d go on a mosey on a Saturday afternoon. … He’d pick up his pal Len Gibbs (renowned Canadian artist, Gibbs died in 2010) from his home on Dallas Road and he’d park in the Broughton Street parkade and spend the afternoon moseying through the art shops, then stop and have tapas in Trounce Alley – and the odd time I’d be invited along.
“It was wonderful to have known him and to get together once in a while,” said Denford.
Wright leaves behind his wife, Yun, three children, Ronald, Randy and Robin and six grandchildren.
Details for a celebration of life have not yet been released.
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