James T. Barry, Jr., real estate visionary and civic leader, dies at 85
James T. Barry, Jr., Chairman of The Barry Company and a visionary force in Wisconsin commercial real estate died Tuesday of natural causes. He was 85.
Mr. Barry was born in Milwaukee on August 21, 1933. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin Law School and joined The Barry Company in 1959, assuming leadership of the company in 1964.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as businesses moved from the central business district of Milwaukee to the suburbs, and with the completion of the freeway system, Mr. Barry foresaw the future shape of the Southeast Wisconsin commercial real estate market and began identifying and assembling land for modern industrial, office and business parks. This effort culminated in the sale of thousands of acres of land in various industrial, office and business parks such as the New Berlin Industrial Park (1970), the Bishops Woods Office Park (1982) and the Moorland Industrial Park (1989), among many others. Mr. Barry assembled and developed business parks for over a dozen Southeast Wisconsin municipalities. In addition to his role in creating business parks, Mr. Barry was consistently involved in many of the most high-profile real estate transactions in Wisconsin history, including the assemblage of land for what is now the US Bank Center in Milwaukee; the repurposing, leasing and ultimate sale of the massive former Allis Chalmers complex in West Allis, Wis., and the handling of nationwide real estate assignments for clients such as Johnson Controls, Snap-on Incorporated, Rockwell International, Miller-Coors and Harley-Davidson.
After transferring leadership of The Barry Company to the next generation, Mr. Barry remained an ever-present force in the commercial real estate industry, providing enthusiastic advice and guidance to the brokers of The Barry Company and remaining keenly well-informed on all things commercial real estate. In his later years, he carried a business card that identified his position as “Peddler.”
Mr. Barry served as president of the Milwaukee Board of Realtors and as a director of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR). He was twice awarded SIOR’s “Most Ingenious Transaction” award, once for his work in the sale of a Pabst Brewing property in Peoria, Ill., and a second time for the help he provided in structuring a transaction for the Gisholt division of Giddings & Lewis in Monona and Madison, Wis. He was recognized in 2010 by the Wisconsin chapter of SIOR with a Lifetime Achievement Award honoring his more than 50-year career in commercial real estate. The same year, he was also named to the Midwest Real Estate News Hall of Fame.
In addition to his business dealings, Mr. Barry was an active civic leader in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. He served as a director of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, an advisory board member of the College of Letters and Sciences at University of Notre Dame, an advisory board member of both the UW Center of Urban Land Economics Research and the University of Wisconsin Law School, and director of numerous charitable, bank and corporate boards.
He was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, The Milwaukee Athletic Club, Chenequa Country Club and Heiliger Huegel Ski Club, where he served as president. He was a devout Catholic and supported numerous Catholic charitable projects, such as the restoration of Holy Hill Basilica.
“My father had the great gift of truly loving what he did, as well as seeing it as his vocation in life,” said his son, James T. Barry III, president of The Barry Company. “In addition, he was deeply devoted to the Milwaukee community, not only as a business leader, but also as an engaged civic leader with a wide array of involvements,” added Barry, who, with his brothers Kevin and David, represent the third generation to lead the nearly century-old Barry Company.
Visitation will be held August 20, 2019 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at Feerick Funeral Home, 2025 E. Capitol Dr., Shorewood, Wis. Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:00am on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at St. Monica Catholic Church, 5601 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Whitefish Bay, Wis.
The Barry Company will be closed on Wednesday, August 21, 2019 so that family, friends and staff may attend services.
About The Barry Company
The Barry Company, a 98-year-old independently owned and operated commercial real estate company provides award-winning services throughout southeast Wisconsin and beyond. The Barry Company has won a total of 17 Deal of the Year awards from the Commercial Association of Realtors-Wisconsin. The company has also received multiple Best Deal/Lease of the Year awards from The Business Journal and has been awarded the Broker of the Year honor by Riverworks Development Corporation.