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Bruce Bastian, Utah tech giant and ‘champion of LGBTQ+ rights,’ dies at 76

Software designer, philanthropist and LGBTQ+ advocate Bruce Bastian in 2004. Bastian died June 16, 2024, at age 76.
Leah Hogsten
The Salt Lake Tribune
Software designer, philanthropist and LGBTQ+ advocate Bruce Bastian in 2004. Bastian died June 16, 2024, at age 76.

Bastian was a co-founder of WordPerfect and played a key part in Utah’s LGBTQ+ community.

Bruce Bastian, a key figure in Utah’s tech and LGBTQ+ communities, has died.

Bastian died Sunday morning, according to Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah. A family friend shared that Bastian died from “complications associated with pulmonary fibrosis.” He was 76.

Bastian was the co-founder of WordPerfect, the word processing application he launched as a grad student at Brigham Young University with his professor, Alan Ashton, in 1979. WordPerfect, originally designed for the city of Orem, became immensely popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

By 1990, the company employed more than 7,000 people. That year, The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Bastian and Ashton were 208th and 209th on Forbes’ annual list of the 400 richest people in America, with a net worth of $475 million each.

In 1991, Forbes estimated Bastian and Ashton’s net worth was $600 million each. That year, The New York Times reported that the privately owned company, with Bastian as chairman, ranked fourth among personal computer software publishers — behind Microsoft, Lotus and Novell. In 1994, Novell, also based in Utah, bought WordPerfect and put Bastian on its board of directors; he resigned a year later.

Bastian shared much of his fortune through the B.W. Bastian Foundation, which has provided grants to dozens of LGBTQ+ organizations and arts nonprofits over the years. (Disclosure: The Salt Lake Tribune is one of the nonprofits to receive grants from Bastian’s foundation.)

Bruce Wayne Bastian was born March 23, 1948, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the fifth of six siblings. According to David Parkinson, a family friend, Bastian’s giving spirit was something he learned when he was young, watching his father donate groceries from their family store to those in need.

Read the full story at sltrib.com.

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.