William Michael (Mike) Wright, 73, of Lake Oswego, Ore., passed away in Portland on Saturday, February 27, 2021 following a brief, non-COVID-related illness. He was surrounded by his loving family.
Mike was born on a ranch near Denison, Texas, on October 7, 1947. He was raised by his mother, Evelyn (Shires) Wright, and adoptive father, Daniel S. Wright. Mike is survived by his wife of 54 years, Cleta, his daughters Natalie Friis, of West Linn, Ore., and Joanie Haugen and husband Shannon, of Brentwood, Calif., as well as his five grandchildren: Inga Friis, Larson Friis, Anders Friis, Grady Haugen and Adeline Haugen. Mike is also survived by many nephews and nieces, as well as half-brothers Billy Edwards and Tommy Edwards of Oklahoma and Texas.
He earned an Associate’s of Science degree in Chemistry, from Grayson College, Sherman, Texas, and a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree with an Economics minor from Midwestern State University, Wichita Falls, Texas.
Mike spent the bulk of his career with the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, starting at age 18 in Sherman, Texas. His J&J career spanned 27 years as he achieved success in management positions, including a role as departmental division head with responsibilities for multiple plants as the dynamic healthcare company rapidly expanded. Mike’s years managing various mergers and acquisitions included travels to such places as Asia, Europe, and South America, which included multiple interstate and bicoastal relocations for his family. Each move led them to make many new friends in places such as Wichita Falls, Texas, Waco, Texas, Orange County, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Los Gatos, Calif., Granite Bay, Calif., before finally settling in Lake Oswego, Ore. Although his career took the family around the country, Mike never forgot his roots. Growing up on a ranch taught him the value of hard work and southern hospitality.
After his career with J&J, Mike founded three companies. He retired as President and CEO of Wellpartner Inc., which he had cofounded in 1999. It was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the Northwest, and Mike was named the Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network. Prior to Wellpartner, he had founded two other companies, Gene Therapeutics and MicroHeart, and had served as President and CEO of TomTec Imaging.
Mike also was an active supporter of nonprofit organizations, including serving as chairman of the board of The Neuropsychiatric Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. In addition, he joined Pacific University’s Board of Trustees in 2013 and earned emeritus status in 2020. Mike also served Pacific as the chair of the advisory council for the College of Health Professions and College of Optometry. He was known as a dedicated supporter and friend of Pacific University.
Mike’s retirement afforded him more free time to enjoy keeping in touch with family and friends near and far, attending classic car shows, as well as tending to his own classic car collection. He continued to mentor others at various companies nationally, and more prominently his close friend at PLI Systems in Hillsboro, Ore.
Mike looked forward to dining out for lunch with his wife Cleta on a daily basis and sharing the news of the day. He enjoyed talking and spending time with his two daughters, Natalie and Joanie, who both admired him. He also greatly missed his Australian Shepherd dog Max, who had been his constant companion.
Mike’s grandchildren were a daily joy, which included attending their sports and school activities. He also enjoyed taking his grandsons to car events and the dirt bike track. He loved sharing with them about mechanics and how to be handy men around their houses, and being supportive as they launched their first entrepreneurial businesses. He always enjoyed the beautiful artwork and delicious dishes when his granddaughters prepared meals or treats.
Mike was a loving husband, father, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, friend, and boss, as well as an instant friend to everyone he encountered, whether on errands in town or during his travels domestically and abroad.
Mike was predeceased by his biological father Bill Edwards, adoptive father Dan Wright, mother Evelyn Wright and siblings Steve Wright and Dana Beth Cunningham.
His ashes will be interred at a later date, with a portion kept lovingly by his wife Cleta, until she can be joined with him forever.
Plans for a Celebration of Life are being finalized. Arrangements are under the care of Riverview Abbey Funeral Home in Portland, Ore.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Pacific University.