WordPerfect co-founder, LGBTQ+ pioneer Bruce Bastian dies at 76

Bruce Bastian. Photo: Wikipedia

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 17, 2024 (Gephardt Daily) — Bruce Bastian, a Utah entrepreneur, philanthropist and pioneer in the LGBTQ+ movement, died Sunday, the Human Rights Campaign announced. He was 76.

Bastion, who co-founded WordPerfect, passed away peacefully while surrounded by his husband, Clint Ford, his four sons, friends and other family members, the HRC said in a news release Monday.

Bastian spent 22 years as a board member for the HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Bruce Bastian, whose legacy will have an undeniably profound impact on the LGBTQ+ community for decades to come,” HRC President Kelley Robinson said. “Bruce was in this fight, working at every level of politics and advocacy, for over three decades. He traveled all across this country on HRC’s behalf and worked tirelessly to help build an inclusive organization where more people could be a part of this work.

“It’s hard to overstate the immense footprint he leaves behind for LGBTQ+ advocates in Washington, D.C., Utah and beyond. Bruce stood up for every one of us and uplifted the beautiful diversity of our community. It’s the kind of legacy we should all be proud to propel forward.”

Bastian joined the HRC board in 2003 and later served as co-chair in its successful effort to help defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposed Constitutional amendment that would have specified marriage as legal only between a man and a woman.

While fighting for equality in Washington, D.C., Bastian also cultivated deep roots for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Utah. Over the course of several decades, he supported Equality Utah, the Utah Pride Center, Encircle and several other organizations in winning historic victories for LGBTQ+ rights.

“No individual has had a greater impact on the lives of LGBTQ Utahns than Bruce Bastian,” Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams said. “Every success our community has achieved over the past three decades can be traced directly back to his love and support. Bruce invested his passion into advancing equality every day, every month and every year of his remarkable life. He has been a rock and pillar for all of us. Our community owes more to Bruce than we can possibly express.”

Bastian was raised as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and in 1979 co-created the word-processing software that later became WordPerfect as a graduate student in computer science at Brigham Young University.

Bastian and BYU faculty member Alan Ashton co-founded WordPerfect, which by the mid-1980s was a leading provider of word-processing software. Bastian served as WordPerfect’s chairman until 1994.

In 1997, he set up the B.W. Bastian Foundation, which adopted a policy of supporting only organizations that wholeheartedly embrace the principle of equality.

“The B.W. Bastian Foundation mourns the loss of our founder and friend,” said Michael Marriott, the foundation’s executive director. “The impact he had on so many lives was immeasurable. His spirit and memory will live on through Clint, his husband of six years, through Bruce’s four sons and their families, and through the many lives he touched through his generosity, time, energy and commitment to making the world a better place. And Bruce’s legacy will continue in the work of the B.W. Bastian Foundation and its mission.”

In addition to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Bastian had a deep love for music and the arts and has supported Ballet West, the Utah Symphony and Opera, and many other arts organizations throughout Utah and the Intermountain West.

That commitment earned him an appointment from President Barack Obama to the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Arts in 2010.

Bastian was born March 23, 1948, in Twin Falls, Idaho. He grew up on the family’s farm in Idaho before moving to Utah to attend BYU, where he became the director of the Cougar Marching Band.

Bastian received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education and a Master of Arts in Computer Science from BYU.

In addition to his four sons, Bastian is survived by 14 grandchildren, two sisters, a brother and numerous other extended family members.


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