Remembering Georgia Sommers Wright, art historian, scholar, filmmaker

Georgia Sommers Wright: Jan 23, 1937 – Dec. 20, 2019

Georgia Wright died at home on Dec. 20, 2019. She was 82.

Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Georgia earned her BA from Swarthmore College, her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University and her MBA from UC Berkeley. She taught at Stanford University, UC Davis, Mills College and UC Berkeley, among others.

Georgia combined her expertise in medieval art with her business degree through her company, Video Monuments, which produced the award-winning educational films Light on the Stone: The Medieval Church at Vezelay and Three English Cathedrals: Norwich, Lincoln, Wells.

Since the 1980s, Georgia was active in the Bay Area-based Institute for Historical Study, serving as newsletter editor for many years and president for several terms. She was also co-founder of the National Coalition for Independent Scholars. Through newsletter articles, conference presentations and homemade T-shirts and buttons proclaiming, “I’m not a bum; I’m an independent scholar,” she advocated for broader respect for the work done by scholars outside of academic settings.

After the 1991 Oakland fire, she became more active in her Claremont Hills neighborhood, joining the Vicente Canyon Hillside Foundation board and advocating for land preservation to slow development.

For as long as she was able, Georgia walked her dog on the Jordan fire trail in Strawberry Canyon, making many friends and appreciating the beauty of the Oakland hills. She was an active member of Save Strawberry Canyon and the Claremont Preservation Coalition. She used her background in video production to educate the local community about environmental threats and the importance of biodiversity.

Georgia supported many progressive causes, including abortion access, gun control and LGBTQ rights. She made friends from all walks of life. She believed in justice and equality, and she treated everyone she met as a human being deserving respect and dignity.

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Georgia was also a talented filmmaker and a generous soul. She contributed to many arts organizations, including the East Bay Media Center in Berkeley.

Georgia was preceded in death by her husband, David, and she is survived by her daughter, Beth (Anne Graham); siblings Edward Sommers (Jane), Crosby Sommers (Barbara) and Anne Louise Micena (John); nieces, nephews, and other extended family members; and many good friends.

A celebration of Georgia’s life will be at Berkeley City Club, Sunday, Feb. 16 at 1 p.m. Contact bswmpls@gmail.com for details. Donations to the Institute for Historical Study, the Milo Foundation, or Planned Parenthood are preferred.