WordPerfect co-founder Bruce Bastian dies at 76

Bruce Bastian speaks during a visit to Volunteers of America and the Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City on June 9, 2012. The co-founder of WordPerfect died Sunday, leaving behind a legacy of philanthropy and innovation.

Bruce Bastian speaks during a visit to Volunteers of America and the Homeless Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City on June 9, 2012. The co-founder of WordPerfect died Sunday, leaving behind a legacy of philanthropy and innovation. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — Bruce Bastian, who co-founded successful word processing platform WordPerfect and later became a philanthropist and champion of the LGBTQ+ community, died Sunday.

He passed away peacefully at 76 years old, surrounded by his four sons, his husband, Clint Ford, and friends and other family members, Equality Utah reported.

His loss has sent ripples through the LGBTQ+ community and the various organizations he was a member of, including the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Utah and the Utah Pride Center

"Bruce stood up for every one of us and uplifted the beautiful diversity of our community," said Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "It's the kind of legacy we should all be proud to propel forward."

Before his career in social justice, Bastian was a pioneer in the tech industry. In 1979, he co-founded what would become WordPerfect with Alan Ashton while Bastian was still a graduate student at Brigham Young University. It almost wasn't to be — Ashton had to convince Bastian to switch from a music master's to computer science.

By 1987, WordPerfect was the most popular PC software, with millions of dollars in sales each year. Bastian served as the company's chairman until 1994.

At one time Bastian's net worth was estimated at $840 million, good enough to make the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest individuals in America, the Deseret News reported in 2003.

After stepping down from WordPerfect, Bastian devoted time and resources to charitable causes. He created the B.W. Bastian Foundation in 1997, with a mission to only support organizations with a commitment to 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. … And Bruce's legacy will continue in the work of the B.W. Bastian Foundation and its mission."

Bastian also supported other advocacy organizations, such as the Utah AIDS Foundation, the Utah Pride Center, Plan-B Theatre and Encircle. He was a great supporter of the arts in Utah, donating to the Utah Symphony and Opera, Ballet West, the University of Utah and more.

Bastian was born on March 23, 1948, in Twin Falls, Idaho, and spent his childhood on the family farm. He moved to Utah to attend BYU, where he became the director of the Cougar Marching Band.

He studied music education as an undergraduate and earned a master's in computer science from the university.

He spent time during his adult years in Orem and Palm Springs, California, where he lived with Ford.

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

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Emma Everett Johnson covers Utah as a general news reporter. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University.

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