Developer Bruce Barton, who friends say worked quietly and tirelessly to keep Georgetown and other parts of Williamson County growing, has died, his family said.
Barton, 67, died Tuesday at Seton Medical Center in Austin after developing pneumonia, said one of his two daughters, Stacy Barton. He recently had suffered a stroke, she said.
A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Ramsey Funeral Home, 5600 Williams Drive in Georgetown.
Bruce Barton, who moved to Georgetown in 1989 with his family, helped bring in or expand more than 30 businesses when he was the executive director of the Georgetown Industrial Foundation from 1990 to 1999, his friends said. The foundation was the precursor to the city’s economic development department. One of his friends, Joe Savage, said Barton was the “guru” of economic development in Georgetown.
“He studied commercial development and commercial property values and had a good vision for what would work on a site and how to recruit people to come to the site to put together a business deal and make it work,” Savage said.
Barton’s current business partner, Mark Allen, said he worked with him for years helping sell some of the land at Longhorn Junction — a more than 240-acre site — at the corner of FM 1460 and Inner Loop on the south side of Georgetown. A hospital and apartments are on part of the site and an H-E-B grocery store is planned, Allen said.
“Bruce would never take no for an answer and he never made excuses,” said Allen. “He had so many stories of overcoming adversity to get deals done.”
He said he and Barton, who also was vice president of the Jarrell Economic Development Corporation, were developing a a Jarrell subdivision called Calumet.
Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross said Barton was a “walking history book of Georgetown” because he had was involved in so many development projects.
“He was as good a friend as you could possibly have,” said Ross. “I liked him because a lot of folks just tell me what they think I want to hear but he was not afraid to tell me things I might not agree with.”
Barton and one of his business partners, Greg Hall, sued then-Georgetown Mayor George Garver in 2013, claiming Garver had falsely accused them of threatening city employees and offering bribes to secure development approvals for real estate projects. The lawsuit was later dismissed.
Born in Irving, Barton graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in government and business in 1974. In the 1970s and early ’80s he was executive director at the Temple and Denison chambers of commerce and industrial foundations.
He also was a director at the Texas Economic Development Commission from 1982 to 1984 and the executive director of the Pampa Chamber in Commerce and Pampa Industrial Foundation from 1987 to 1990.
Barton is survived by his ex-wife, Pam Barton of Georgetown; and daughters Courtney Barton of Georgetown and Stacy Barton and her husband Brent Nicewonger and their daughter Rory Barton, all of Fort Worth.