James T. Barry Jr., chairman of The Barry Co., has died. Barry died Tuesday of natural causes. He was 85.
Barry was born in Milwaukee on Aug. 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, 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.
Barry assembled and developed business parks for over a dozen southeast Wisconsin municipalities. In addition to his role in creating business parks, 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, 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 Co. to the next generation, Barry remained an ever-present force in the commercial real estate industry, providing advice and guidance to the company’s brokers.
Barry served as president of the Milwaukee Board of Realtors and as a director of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors. He was twice awarded SIOR’s “Most Ingenious Transaction” award, once for his work in the sale of a Pabst Brewing property in Peoria, Illinois, and a second time for the help he provided in structuring a transaction for the Gisholt division of Giddings & Lewis in Monona and Madison.
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, 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.