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Remembering Bruce Bastian, 1948-2024 

Bruce Bastain

Bruce Bastian

Bruce Bastian was a longtime supporter of the Tanner Humanities Center and his partnership was instrumental in furthering the center’s mission to provide public outreach and educational enrichment to the University campus and the broader community. The B.W. Bastian Foundation enabled the Tanner Humanities Center to host prominent LGBTQ+ authors and scholars, expanding opportunities for students and our community to learn from LGBTQ+ voices.  

Like many technology entrepreneurs, Bastian passionately recognized the importance of the Arts and Humanities. His generous philanthropy has fueled programs across the University of Utah, the Tanner Humanities Center and the College of Humanities.  His legacy as a champion for LGBTQ+ rights at the University and in the College of Humanities will be long lasting and support students for years to come. 

Bruce Bastian, tech entrepreneur, philanthropist, and businessman, passed away on June 16, 2024. Although he was best known for co-creating a word processing application and co-founding the WordPerfect Software Company with Alan Ashton, he was also a philanthropist, lover of the arts, and a key figure in Utah’s LGBTQ+ community.  

At the height of its popularity in the 1980s-1990s, WordPerfect was the leading provider of word processing software for the personal computer industry. WordPerfect was more advanced than its competitor WordStar and boasted a more robust list of features and a clean display.  

In 1997 Bastian established the B.W. Bastian Foundation which strived to build community and understanding through its financial support directed towards the performing arts and the LGBTQ+ community. Bastian was an avid supporter of the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, and Ballet West, and generously supported the renovation of Kingsbury Hall on the University of Utah campus. In 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Bastian to the Presidential Advisory Committee on the Arts.  

Bastian valued programs and organizations that promoted equality for the LGBTQ+ community and HIV/AIDS programs. He was a long-time supporter of the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, and the Human Rights Campaign, and he served on their board for over 22 years. Bastian was also an avid and deeply committed supporter of the University of Utah’s LGBT Resource Center.  

“We are deeply grateful for Bruce Bastian’s support for and embrace of the humanities. We will strive to do honor to his legacy as we feature voices championing the arts, human rights, civil rights, and love for the world,” said Hollis Robbins, dean of the College of Humanities. 

Bruce Bastian was a powerful example of what the Humanities strive for. He brought complex understandings of history and social issues to the forefront, while using the power of critical thinking to develop software that has changed our technological landscape. He was a visionary leader, impacting countless lives through his career, philanthropy, advocacy, and leadership. Bruce shined a light on the LGBTQ+ community of Utah and his legacy will live on as important example to us all.  

Bastian died on June 16, 2024 at the age of 76. He is survived by his husband, three siblings, four sons and 14 grandchildren. 


Last Updated: 6/21/24