Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2006-03-16

Lolla Catherine Wurtele Wright, 92, widow of former Samford University president Leslie S. Wright, died Thursday, March 16, in Birmingham. She was Samford's first lady for 25 years, 1958-1983.

Visitation will be Sunday, March 19, 5-8 p.m. at Ridout's Valley Chapel in Homewood. Funeral will be Monday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Birmingham.

"Mrs. Wright loved this university and worked energetically and successfully in its behalf," said Samford president Thomas E. Corts. "She and her late husband were a striking couple and they made many enduring friendships for Samford. Their hard work and devotion is everywhere apparent on the Samford campus."

Mrs. Wright, a native of Ensley, Ala., attended Howard College briefly before graduating from the University of Alabama, where she was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. She earned a master's degree in mathematics at the University of Louisville.

She married her childhood friend, Leslie Stephen Wright, in 1939. As Samford's first lady, she was a devoted hostess for the University. She frequently opened her home for events supporting Samford athletic teams, student organizations and faculty groups. She was a caretaker for a series of mascot bulldogs for the University.

Mrs. Wright was a member of the Women's Committee of 100 for Birmingham, the Antiquarian Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Daughters of the American Colonists, and an honorary member of the Birmingham Rotary Club. She was a charter member of the board of the Alabama Men's Hall of Fame and long-time executive director of the Samford Auxiliary.

She was a member of Southside Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Birmingham.

Survivors include her two sons and their wives, Leslie Stephen Wright, Jr., and Jane of Trussville; and John King Wright and Libby of Birmingham; four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.