Obituary: Burnett Bartley Jr. / Decorated WWII vet, hydroplane racer, community leader
Nov. 10, 1924 - April 3, 2013
April 5, 2013 8:00 AM
JACQUES BRINON/AFP/Getty Images
Actor Tom Hanks stands beside U.S. veteran Burnett Bartley after Mr. Bartley was awarded with the Legion of Honor medal in Paris in 2009. Mr. Bartley took part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944 on Omaha Beach in Normandy, with 35th Infantry US Division.
By Steve Twedt Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Burnett Graham Bartley Jr. was a successful business executive and community leader. Less well known, except to those closest to him, was that Mr. Bartley also was a highly decorated World War II veteran and a champion hydroplane racer. As a Shady Side Academy Magazine article once noted, Mr. Bartley led "a most interesting and lucky life."
Mr. Bartley, who died Wednesday at his Fox Chapel home at age 88, was a longtime employee of Koppers Co. Inc., starting in 1949 as a trainee in the company's Forest Products Division's technical department in Orrville, Ohio. By 1968, he had worked his way up to vice president and general manager of Koppers Forest Products Division after holding various positions in Texas, Oklahoma, Philadelphia, Columbus and Chicago.
In 1972, Mr. Bartley was named group vice president in the Koppers executive department, and in 1978 he was elected deputy chairman of the company's board of directors.
After resigning from Koppers in 1988, he bought Koppers' chemical and coating division, Kop-Coat Inc., and became chairman and CEO of Anegada Group, a privately held investment holding company named for a coral island in the British Virgin Islands.
Mr. Bartley served on several community boards, including Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and he was chairman of the board of trustees for Point Park College in the 1990s.
An Army veteran, he served under Gen. Courtney Hodge during the 1944 landing at Normandy -- the Shady Side Academy article said he was one of only three survivors in his company -- and he later was awarded two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star after also seeing action in Africa, the Middle East, the Ardennes and Central Europe.
In 2009, Mr. Bartley traveled to Paris to receive France's Legion of Honor, that country's highest award for valor, for his contributions to the liberation of France.
He was a lifetime member and director of the 35th Infantry Association and a director and founding member of the Friends of World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Bartley graduated from Yale University in three years with a degree in economics in 1949 and he completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program in 1965. His varied outside interests ranged from 18th- and 19th-century oil paintings to racing hydroplanes. In the 1950s and 1960s, he was twice U.S. champion and once world hydroplane champion, said his son, Parker Bartley.
"Despite all his success in the business world and all of his achievements, he had a special fondness for his grandchildren, and he could often be found at King's Restaurant with four or five of them," his son said.
Mr. Bartley is survived by his wife, Wendy, in Fox Chapel; five sons, Burnett III of Dallas, Davison W. of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Richard M. of Ross, Parker B. of Fox Chapel and Timothy Vogler of Fox Chapel; two daughters, Heather B. Cullinan of Fox Chapel and Tiffany G. Martha of Gibsonia; and 18 grandchildren.
There will be no visitation, and the service and internment will be private. Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home in Aspinwall is in charge of arrangements.