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William Robert (Bob) Wright, former Utah Republican Party chairman and one-time GOP nominee for governor, died Friday after a 20-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 76.

Wright ran for governor in 1980 and was defeated by then-Gov. Scott Matheson. He had served previously (1977 to 1979) as head of the state GOP.

The Salt Lake City native was elected to the state Board of Education where he served from 1971-76 and was selected chairman of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Wright also served on numerous boards, from the Utah Opera and Ballet West to the Salt Lake County Association for the Mentally Retarded.

He practiced law at Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough in Salt Lake City for 29 years. He was on the board of directors and had served as managing partner and senior vice president.

Wright is survived by his wife, Janet, and eight children — including current Utah Republican Party Chairman Thomas Wright — and 18 grandchildren.

The party issued a statement of condolence, noting that "Bob believed strongly in the principles of the [Utah GOP] and was willing to serve when the party needed him most. His time and efforts for Utah will be remembered."

Services are planned Wednesday at the Monument Park Stake Center, 1320 S. Wasatch Drive, at noon. A viewing will be held Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2350 E. 1300 South.