Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Minnesota Legislature
Skip Navigation Links > > >

Wright, Sr., Donald Orr "Don"

House 1927-34 (District 30); Senate 1935-54 (District 30); Senate 1955-62 (District 30); Senate 1963-70 (District 38)

Party when first elected:  Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus

Counties Served:  Hennepin

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Date of Birth: 11/18/1892
Birth Place: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Birth County: Hennepin
Birth Country: United States
Date of Death: 7/24/1985
Gender: Male
Religion: Congregational
Reported Minority: None Reported
Other Names: Don
City of Residence (when first elected): Minneapolis
Occupation (when first elected): Lawyer; Wright and Wright, Attorneys

EDUCATION

University of Minnesota; Attended College; 1912
Northwestern College of Law, Minneapolis; Law Degree; 1918

OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICE

Military: World War I; [Dates Unknown]
State Lieutenant Governor: Minnesota; 09/03/1954 to 01/03/1955

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

Spouse: Virna A. Wood (she was a Secretary for the Minnesota House of Representatives, she died on June 19, 1986)
Children: Two children: Donald Orr Jr. (preceded his dad in death) and Charles W. (sons)
Family Members Who Have Served in the Minnesota Legislature:
Fred Beriah Wright  - Father

GENERAL NOTES

He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)

"Wright, a Minneapolis Conservative..." ("Roy E. Dunn and Donald O. Wright." Star Tribune, July 28, 1985)

"...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)

Senator Donald O. Wright was sworn in as Lt. Governor on September 3, 1954 following Lt. Governor Ancher Nelsen's resignation on May 1, 1953 to become the head of the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration. He served until January 3, 1955. From the time Sen. Wright was sworn in as lieutenant governor, the Senate never met in session. Governor Orville Freeman and Lt. Governor Karl Rolvaag were elected to their respective offices in the 1954 election and took office in January 1955. Sen. Wright ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1954 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1955.

At one time, the record for the greatest number of years served overall for the Minnesota Legislature (both House and Senate service) was held by Carl M. Iverson, and Anton J. Rockne at 44 years of service. Donald O. Wright's length of service would have been tied with them if his four month service as Lieutenant Governor in late 1954 was counted as legislative service.

The record for number of years served in the Minnesota Senate is held by Anton J. Rockne at 36 years of service. Donald O. Wright's length of Senate service would be tied with him if his four month service as Lieutenant Governor in late 1954 was counted as legislative service.

He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

He died at the St. Louis Park Plaza Nursing Home in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. His funeral was held at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Religion provided by his obituary.

Total Days Served: 15950

SESSIONS SERVED

66th Legislative Session (1969-1970) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 38
Elected: 11/8/1966
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/3/1967 to 1/4/1971
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Civil Administration and Metropolitan Affairs
  • Civil Administration and Metropolitan Affairs: Metropolitan Problems Division
  • Committees
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

65th Legislative Session (1967-1968)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 38
Elected: 11/8/1966
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/3/1967 to 1/4/1971
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Civil Administration and Metropolitan Affairs
  • Civil Administration and Metropolitan Affairs: Metropolitan Problems Division
  • Committees
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

64th Legislative Session (1965-1966) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 38
Elected: 11/6/1962
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1963 to 1/2/1967
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

63rd Legislative Session (1963-1964)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 38
Elected: 11/6/1962
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1963 to 1/2/1967
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

62nd Legislative Session (1961-1962) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/4/1958
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1959 to 1/7/1963
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees (Chair)
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

61st Legislative Session (1959-1960)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/4/1958
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1959 to 1/7/1963
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees (Chair)
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Rules and Legislative Expense
  • Taxes (Chair)

60th Legislative Session (1957-1958) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/2/1954
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1955 to 1/5/1959
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees (Chair)
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

59th Legislative Session (1955-1956)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/2/1954
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1955 to 1/5/1959
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Committees (Chair)
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)

58th Legislative Session (1953-1954) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/7/1950
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/2/1951 to 9/3/1954 (unfinished term)
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Civil Defense
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)
Leadership Position: President Pro Tempore
Reason for unfinished term: Other - See Notes
Session Notes: Lt. Governor Ancher Nelsen resigned on May 1, 1953 to become the head of the U.S. Rural Electrification Administration. It wasn't until September 3, 1954 that Senator Donald O. Wright was sworn in as Lt. Governor. He served until January 3, 1955. From the time Sen. Wright was sworn in as lieutenant governor, the Senate never met in session. Governor Orville Freeman and Lt. Governor Karl Rolvaag were elected to their respective offices in the 1954 election and took office in January 1955. Sen. Wright ran for and won re-election to his senate seat in the 1954 election, taking office again as a state senator in January 1955.

57th Legislative Session (1951-1952)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/7/1950
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/2/1951 to 9/3/1954 (unfinished term)
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws (Chair)
Reason for unfinished term: Other - See Notes
Session Notes: In the second half of his Senate term, he became Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota after Ancher Nelsen resigned to become Administrator of the Rural Electric Administration.

56th Legislative Session (1949-1950) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/5/1946
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/7/1947 to 1/1/1951
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare (Chair)
  • Taxes and Tax Laws

55th Legislative Session (1947-1948)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/5/1946
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/7/1947 to 1/1/1951
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration
  • Education
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare (Chair)
  • Taxes and Tax Laws

54th Legislative Session (1945-1946) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/3/1942
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/5/1943 to 1/6/1947
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration (Chair)
  • Education
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws

53rd Legislative Session (1943-1944)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/3/1942
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/5/1943 to 1/6/1947
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration (Chair)
  • Education
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicles and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws

52nd Legislative Session (1941-1942) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/8/1938
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/3/1939 to 1/4/1943
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration (Chair)
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Public Welfare
  • Taxes and Tax Laws

51st Legislative Session (1939-1940)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/8/1938
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/3/1939 to 1/4/1943
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: He is an active Republican and a member of the state party's delegation to the GOP national convention in 1940." (Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1957?)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Civil Administration (Chair)
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways
  • Taxes and Tax Laws
  • Workmens Compensation

50th Legislative Session (1937-1938) (second half of Senate term)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/6/1934
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1935 to 1/2/1939
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Tax Laws
  • Public Highways (Chair)
  • Taxes and Tax Laws
  • Workmens Compensation

49th Legislative Session (1935-1936)

  Session Details
Body: Senate
District: 30
Elected: 11/6/1934
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1935 to 1/2/1939
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer, Donald O. Wright and Alfred W. Bowen Law Firm
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • General Legislation
  • Judiciary
  • Labor
  • Liquor Control (Chair)
  • Motor Vehicle and Motor Tax Laws
  • Taxes and Tax Laws
  • Workmens Compensation

48th Legislative Session (1933-1934)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 30
Elected: 11/8/1932
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/3/1933 to 1/7/1935
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer, Donald O. Wright and Alfred W. Bowen Law Firm
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Aircraft and Airways
  • Banks and Banking
  • Commerce, Manufacture and Retail Trade
  • Judiciary
  • Military Affairs
  • Municipal Affairs
  • State Prison
  • Workmens Compensation

47th Legislative Session (1931-1932)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 30
Elected: 11/4/1930
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/6/1931 to 1/2/1933
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer; Wright and Wright, Attorneys
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Judiciary
  • Metropolitan Drainage
  • Public Highways
  • Railroads and State Motor Transportation
  • Reapportionment
  • Workmens Compensation (Chair)

46th Legislative Session (1929-1930)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 30
Elected: 11/6/1928
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/8/1929 to 1/5/1931
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer; Wright and Wright, Attorneys
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Elections
  • Judiciary
  • Metropolitan Drainage
  • Public Highways
  • Railroads and State Motor Transportation
  • Workmens Compensation (Chair)

45th Legislative Session (1927-1928)

  Session Details
Body: House
District: 30
Elected: 11/2/1926
Residence: Minneapolis
Term of Office: 1/4/1927 to 1/7/1929
Counties Represented: Hennepin
Occupation: Lawyer; Wright and Wright, Attorneys
Party: Nonpartisan Election-Conservative Caucus Party Notes: "...once describing a governor from his own Republican party as 'wooden-headed'..." ("Donald O. Wright" Star Tribune, July 26, 1985)
Committees:
  • Cities of the First Class
  • Elections
  • Judiciary
  • Public Highways
  • Reapportionment
  • Workmens Compensation
Articles & Books About
"Virna Wright Dead at 89 (Obituary)." St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 20, 1986.

"Roy E. Dunn and Donald O. Wright (Obituary)." Star Tribune, July 28, 1985.

"Donald O. Wright (Obituary)." Star Tribune, July 26, 1985.

Dawson, Gary. "Legendary Legislator Sen. Don Wright Dies (Obituary)." St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 25, 1985.

Dawson, Gary. "Donald O. Wright, 92, Dies; Was Key Legislator (Obituary)." St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 24, 1985.

O'Keefe, Robert J. "Ex-Tax Chief Wright a Legislative Legend." St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 17, 1982.

"Committee Picketed." Minneapolis Tribune, May 14, 1969.

"Wright's Wrong (Zoo Funding)." Minneapolis Tribune, February 13, 1969.

O'Keefe, Robert J. "Is the 'Fox' Still Legislating?" St. Paul Pioneer Press, January 2, 1969.

"Donald O. Wright." Typewritten Profile, Source Unknown, 1955? and 1957?

Donald O. (Orr) Wright, Sr. Biographical Information from the Minnesota Historical Society's Governors of Minnesota.