My Immediate Family

I come from a large family, and I'm proud of them. So here's their fifteen minutes of fame....and I feel safe talking about them because none of them have their own Web pages yet. When they do, I'll let them write their own rebuttals.

If you want to email them, click on their name. Each Wright household has at least one email address.

[Last Updated: May 3, 1999]

James LaMont Wright Sr.

My father was born 09/24/37 in Seminole, Oklahoma. He grew up in Long Beach, California, graduated from Jordan High School (claim to fame: he was in ROTC with Gilligan himself, Bob Denver--he has the yearbooks to prove it), and served a stint in the US Air Force that sent him to New England and Europe during the 50s. He returned to Long Beach, got his law degree, and was an attorney until 1987 when he was appointed a California municipal court judge. He has worked on several high-profile cases, and counts Lance Ito among his bench associates. But don't ask him about O.J., or he'll throw your hiney in jail faster than you can say "Kato's sleeping on the couch." (Don't ask me how I know.) But he's a jurist in his own right, doing much to bring the California Courts into the computer age. He's been named Judge of the Year in Long Beach, as has received numerous other accolades. And he's got a really cool picture of the cast of Night Court, signed by all the cast members.

Dad has been active in the Long Beach Cambodian community through the LDS church--and in the community at large--for years, through politics and the Mainland China sister city program. He has traveled around the world, often as a result of his wife and/or children. He has attended a wedding in Cambodia, ridden a camel in the Holy Land, eaten stuff in China that would make Indiana Jones gag, and enjoyed Singapore's hospitality lash-free. And his stories of Europe leave my credit cards hovering over the travel section of the Sunday papers.

His home has a reputation for "good clutter"--the result of 30+ years of messy kids; expensive hobbies of books, travel artifacts, and photography; and unstinting generosity to those in need. In an average week, the family homestead has more visitors than Hearst Castle, with considerably less mudslide damage and no cover charge.

Janet Tanner Wright

Mom was born 01/25/44 in Joplin, Missouri. She and my father were married in late June 1963. Mom returned to college while I was in high school, starting off slow but steadily to earn associate, bachelor, and master degrees in history and ancient scripture. Her studies led her to several trips to the Middle East, including a summer archaeological dig at Tel Dan, Israel. She's now in the vending machine business, teaches religion courses to college-age kids, and manages to get more done before 9am than most military units.

Mom is one of those people you feel lucky knowing. She raised us right, and she is a great example to us.

Wayne and Phal (Mao) Wright

Wayne was born 5/1/67 in southern California. He, like most of us, graduated from Lakewood High School (home of the notorious Spur Posse) and California State University at Long Beach, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key along the way. He served an LDS mission in Maryland and Washington, DC, working mainly with the Cambodian community. This sparked his love for the Cambodian people; he has subsequently worked extensively with them in Long Beach, spent a summer at Cornell University studying the Khmer language, and lived for more than a year in Cambodia working for CANDO, a Cambodian-American volunteer organization. While in Cambodia he hobnobbed with ambassadors and royalty, critiqued the king's films, and helped bring the LDS church to the country. He also met his wife there; Wayne and Phal currently live in Long Beach, where he teaches ESL in the public schools and recently completed his Masters degree.

Wayne is also an accomplished musician, with an amazing talent for the French Horn. He played for a time in a Civil War band that took him all over the country.

Phal seems to be adjusting nicely to American society. Her English is excellent, she got her drivers license on her first attempt (a Wright family first, I'd guess), and she's already had her first job at the Mall. As to her introduction to the concept of withholding, she has nothing good to say about that FICA dude.

On the morning August 30, 1995, Phal gave birth to Jeffery Sovan Wright, the first of the third generation of Wrights. Now nearing two years old, Jeffery is carrying on the proud Wright family toddler tradition of destroying everything he can get his hands on.

Their second son, Michael Sopat, was born March 28th, 1999.


Laurie was born 9/12/69 in southern California. She graduated from Long Beach Poly High School (home of Snoop Doggy Dog and Cameron Diaz) where she was a member of the CIC program. She has worked for the Hilton hotel chain, and has traveled extensively. She studied in mainland China briefly, then taught there. She also took tour groups to China for a time. Laurie recently graduated from Brigham Young University, and currently lives in Japan where she teaches elementary school kids. Laurie was the only person who manages to keep the Jungle (and, at times, her brothers) from overrunning the neighborhood, and I miss having her around.

In March 1999, Laurie married Tim Hagen in Los Angeles. I've only met him once, but he seems like a pretty nice guy.

Darrell and Connie (Wright) Wilson

Connie was born 2/2/71 in southern California. She graduated from Lakewood High School, and attended college briefly before marrying Darrell Wilson. They lived in Bothell, Washington while she attended Court Reporting school, but they have since returned to Long Beach. Connie does transcription at Cal State Northridge, and Darrell is working on his degree.

Darrell is a multitalented guy. He's great with his hands; he has had jobs fixing cars and Birkenstock sandals, and installing windows. He recently bought out the window tinting business in the Seattle area and is learning that being your own boss means everyone at CostCo soon knows you by name. He's also got a mind like a steel trap, and manages to hold his own quite well in the regular family jokefests.

On November 22, 1997, Connie gave birth to their first child, Nathaniel James. He loves to laugh, so he should fit in well in this family.


Mark was born 4/17/72 in southern California, and graduated from Lakewood High School. While in school he was involved in several bands, and attained a degree of minor cult status in the L.A. music scene. A natural musician, Mark continues to play daily and has developed skills in drums, guitar and bass, and has done things with my MIDI equipment I didn't know was possible.

Mark served an LDS mission in coastal Columbia, lived with me in Provo for a couple of years while attending UVSC and working at Ultimate Electronics, and currently lives in Long Beach where he attends school and delivers water full-time (an ideal job for him, since driving is one of his great loves). He has plans to return to Utah, to get into school full-time and to return to the "highest population density of beautiful women on the planet."

Mark is a man of absolutes. He absolutely refuses to eat Menthos, step into a Wal-Mart, or get within exposure distance to John Tesh or disco. He is the coiner of the term "Permafunk," that base-level of stench that develops in work shoes, which even an extensive airing-out will not remove. He has also coined other, equally colorful terms which are not appropriate for a family forum. He's one of the funniest people I know, and one of my best friends.

Mark was the baby of the family, until Jonathan arrived.


Jonathan was born 7/11/86 in southern California (a clean sweep). Spoiled rotten by his parents and siblings, Jonathan has nonetheless managed to make his own mark on the family. He is a student of the martial arts, and is rapidly moving towards his black belt. He is also a stone-killer when it comes to Sega Genesis games, and kicks my hiney on a regular basis.

Jonathan enjoys the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He also enjoys Animaniacs and The Tick, his big brothers' favorite cartoons. He's toured a good part of this country, visiting a number of states in the summer of 1996 when my parents took a church history Tour.

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