Paula Jean Bear Wright
July 25, 1952 ~ June 20, 2012
Paula Wright, a longtime friend and supporter of the Western Folklife Center and the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, died June 20, 2012 from a horse riding accident.
Paula was born July 25, 1952 in Elko to Betty and Paul Bear, and was the youngest of three children. The family lived at the Devil’s Gate Ranch. In 1958, the Bears moved to Elko and purchased J.M Capriola Company. Paula was involved in the business from age 6 on, learning how to tool leather, run a cash register and wait on customers. She was active in Girl Scouts, 4-H and horsemanship, as well as school activities. Paula and Doug Wright were married October 16, 1971 in Elko at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and son John joined the family in 1981.
Active in numerous civic and non-profit activities in the community, Paula was a devoted and tireless volunteer and fundraiser for many local causes. Her latest project was to serve as chair of the Centennial Committee for the Silver State Stampede.
Paula was widely recognized throughout the West for her knowledge and appraisal abilities in western gear and memorabilia. In 2004, she co-wrote “Legacy of Silver and Saddles” about the Garcia, Capriola and Bear families creating and crafting western gear, including historical items from the in-store J.M. Capriola Company Museum in the book.
With J.M. Capriola Company, Paula took gear to rodeos and horse show in the western states and Hawaii and traveled overseas to Equitana in Germany and the Mt. Isa Rodeo in Australia. Paula was a beloved institution in Elko and the ranching community. She is greatly missed.