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Bartell Zachry, Longtime Head Of Construction Firm, Air Force Veteran, Community Leader, Dies At 86

Henry Bartell Zachry Jr., the longtime former president and chairman of the international engineering and construction giant H.B. Zachry Company, died on Wednesday at the age 86.

Zachry died after fighting multiple system atrophy, a neurological disorder, according to an official statement.

He was born in Laredo in 1933. He attended Alamo Heights High School and studied civil engineering at Texas A&M. He also studied business at Harvard.

After college, Zachry served as an Air Force officer and fighter pilot. He was honorably discharged in 1957 and then joined the family company, where he worked for 65 years.

Among the company’s best known projects is the Hilton Palacio Del Rio, built quickly for HemisFair ‘68 by lifting modular rooms into place.

Credit Courtesy photo
The modular rooms at the Hilton Palacio del Rio, built for HemisFair '68.

The company also worked on the Mission Reach project and the Paul Elizondo Tower as the justice center expanded. Other projects took him to Hawaii and into the Peruvian jungle.

Zachry served on education, banking, medical research boards and as chair of the United Way and Economic Development Foundation. He was named a member of the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 2000, honored by Laredo as Mr. South Texas in 2001, and in 2003 received a lifetime achievement award from the Associated General Contractors of America.

"A huge tree has fallen in the Aggie forest," A&M Chancellor John Sharp said on Thursday. "Bartlett Zachry’s contributions to Texas A&M are legendary, and it would not be possible to find a better man in Texas. We will miss him as we would miss a brother.”

His immediate survivors include his wife Mollie and four children. A private service was set for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. More information was available here.

The family asked anyone wishing to honor his memory to consider making a contribution to the Bartell Zachry Memorial Endowment for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at the UT Health San Antonio.

Contributions may be mailed to: UT Health San Antonio, 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, Mail Code 7835, San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.