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Washington County District Judge Dana Moylan Wright's passion for law comes from her father

June 18, 2011|By MAEGAN CLEARWOOD | maegan.clearwood@herald-mail.com
  • Daniel Moylan, third from left, and his wife, Mary, are shown with the family in this photo taken at their July 2003 wedding. The children are, from left, Daniel Patrick Moylan, Elizabeth Moylan, Alden Moylan and Dana Moylan Wright.
Submitted Photo

When Washington County District Judge Dana Moylan Wright was young, she watched as her father, Circuit Judge Daniel W. Moylan, led the courtroom. These days, she is the one on the bench, and her father — now retired — is still offering advice.

"He always has good advice. I always take it, requested or not," said Moylan Wright, 45.

Her passion for law comes from those early days in the courtroom, watching her father work. She said it was the personal touch he brought to law that inspired her to follow the same path.

"I was always looking at the impact he had on other people. He was willing to delve into issues, the underlying problems," Moylan Wright said. "This was an age where there wasn't treatment for addictions or family problems. I watched him as he delved into areas of uncharted territory."  

Moylan, 75, said he knew his daughter was destined for a career in law when she was as young as 12 and arguing with her parents at the dinner table about her constitutional rights to refuse to eat the food they were serving.

Law runs in the family. Moylan and his brother were judges, his father was a judge and his son is a lawyer. Although Moylan is retired, he still visits his daughter at the courthouse, often meeting her for lunch.

"I'm so tremendously proud of her," he said. "We've always been close. We can, in a few words, get right to the heart of something, emotional or professional."

Father's Day for the family was always at home, Moylan Wright said, complete with an attempt at a homemade coconut cake, her father's favorite.

Moylan said he and his late wife, Ann, downplayed Father's Day. It was another opportunity for family time, and he told his children he wished there was a "Children's Day."

"He focused us on important things in life, not getting caught up in materialism. Particularly in this day and age, I'm very grateful for that," Moylan Wright said. "He's definitely been my hero."

Although she was one of four children, Moylan Wright said she always felt close to her father.

"I remember when I was a little kid, I was always very outspoken with what I was thinking, no matter how absurd it was. He would always cock an ear and listen, even if it didn't make any sense," she said. "I appreciate that. It teaches you what to expect from other people."

Now, she has two children of her own — Will, 4, and Annie, 2 — who see their grandparents often.

Moylan Wright said she has learned plenty about parenting from her father.

"I remember seeing him get mad once in my life," she said. "I try to emulate that. I try to handle things in a way that's constructive for those around me. He is a master at that."

She said this Father's Day should be as low-key and family-oriented as ever, with a walk around the field at the old farmhouse, a tradition for family gatherings.

"We'll probably make a silly-looking homemade cake," she said.

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