June 10, 2020
Henry Bartell Zachry, Jr., passed away on June 10, 2020, after a long battle with MSA. A man of great thoughtfulness and sincerity, Bartell valued family and community, honesty and humility. He believed in the goodness of people and considered it both a duty and a privilege to serve others, from his family to his employees to his fellow citizens.
Born in Laredo, Texas, on August 21, 1933, to Marjorie Powell and H.B. “Pat” Zachry, Bartell grew up learning the values of hard work and civic responsibility. He lived most of his life in San Antonio, where he attended Alamo Heights High School. After graduation, he enrolled at Texas A&M University (Class of ’54), where he studied Civil Engineering and was a member of the Corps of Cadets. He was later named a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and admitted to the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. After college, Bartell was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Having received his pilot’s license at the age of 16, he trained as a fighter pilot, which only heightened his lifelong love of airplanes. He was honorably discharged in 1957, then returned to San Antonio to join H.B. Zachry Company.
Not long after, he met Mollie Steves; they were married on June 4, 1960. Their early years of marriage were marked by adventure, moving with Zachry Company first to Hawaii and then to the remote jungles of Peru. Then after attending the Program for Management Development in the Business School at Harvard University, Bartell returned to San Antonio, where he and Mollie remained and raised their four children. As a husband and father, Bartell was patient and devoted, always encouraging and supportive. Family was integral to who he was, and he was equally committed to his four siblings and to his parents.
These personal attributes carried over into business as well. In his 65-year tenure with H. B. Zachry Company, Bartell did not seek individual recognition but preferred collaborating as part of the team. His accomplishments can be measured objectively, in terms of Zachry Company’s global reach and stability, in the numerous industry awards he received for excellence in management and construction, and in his induction into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2000. In truth, Bartell’s definition of success had little to do with traditional business measures. For him, the Company was the people who worked there, and he wanted to provide as much, for as many, as he possibly could.
Bartell was a beacon of steadiness; his analytical bent and his unshakable patience provided stability at home, at work, and in his many civic endeavors. While Bartell gave unselfishly to his family and business, he also devoted a significant amount of time serving the community, state, and nation. As an avid supporter of education, Bartell advocated in numerous roles for schools in San Antonio and in Texas. He served on the Board of Trustees of Texas Military Institute (Chair), Alamo Heights Independent School District Board of Trustees (Chair) and various advisory boards at Texas A&M. He was actively involved for many years with UT Health San Antonio and also served on the Boards of the Texas Department of Corrections, the Federal Reserve Bank San Antonio Branch (Chair), the Dallas District Board of the Federal Reserve Bank (Chair), Southwest Research Institute (Chair), and the World Affairs Council, by whom he was honored as International Citizen of the Year. He was chair of the Board of the United Way of Greater San Antonio and the Economic Development Foundation. In addition to these endeavors, he was always a quiet, but active, leader serving in many positions at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church as well as in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
For his service, he was often recognized. Meaningful to him was the Lifetime Achievement Award given in 2003 by the Associated General Contractors of America. In 2001, he was named Mr. South Texas, a tribute awarded each year during the George Washington’s Birthday Celebration in Laredo, special to him given his affection for his birthplace. However, Bartell was never motivated to serve for personal accolades. Instead, his service was an expression of his desire to contribute to the greater good.
Bartell loved flying kites as well as airplanes, dissecting problems to arrive at solutions, and spending time with his lifelong friends. All his life he loved the outdoors, hunting and fishing in South Texas, and in later years retreating to the Hill Country reveling in the company of his wife, children and grandchildren. As a proud American and faithful Christian, he espoused the principles of forgiveness and second chances. He believed people could be better if given an opportunity and, in this belief, he inspired others to do just that. A line from the poet William Wordsworth encapsulates his true legacy: “The best portion of a good man’s life: His little nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.”
Bartell was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Emma Leigh Carter. He leaves behind Mollie, his wife of 60 years, as well as son John and his wife Laura; son David and his wife Karen Lee; daughter Anne Rochelle and her husband Jeff; daughter Ellen Carrie and her husband Chris; and grandchildren Bart, Joe and Will Zachry; Sam, Olivia and Henry Zachry; David, Thomas, Mollie, Lindsey and Sallie Rochelle; and John, Elizabeth and Andrew Carrie. He is also survived by his sisters Mary Pat Stumberg and Suzanne Word and his brother Jim Zachry and his wife Nancy, as well as numerous nieces and nephews.