David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professorship in Art History
The David Bruton, Jr. Centennial Professorship in Art History was established by the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System on February 11, 1983, for the benefit of the College of Fine Arts. The endowment honors Mr. David Bruton, Jr. of Dallas, Texas, a 1953 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts.
David Bruton, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas, January 12, 1931.His father, David, Sr., a Texas A&M graduate and World War I test pilot, was an entrepreneur in the oil business, having started his own business and shepherding it to great success, while adding greatly to the Bruton family’s well-regarded reputation. David Bruton, Sr. passed to his son the values that had made him successful, including his strong work ethic, reliance on academics, the skills and drive to build something from nothing, and the need to serve his country.
David Bruton Jr.
His own father was, without question, David Bruton, Jr.’s greatest mentor. He mentioned his father nearly every day in his diary and once wrote, “I am very fortunate to have the help and aid of Dad.” Their close relationship allowed David, Jr. to continue building on the family’s already successful ventures when he took over management of the Bruton family lands from his father.
David Bruton, Jr. spent his childhood in Houston. He left Texas temporarily to attend Fountain Valley High School, a private preparatory school in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Upon graduation, he returned to the state to attend The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied economics, history and business and was a member of the Air Force ROTC. He graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts.
After graduation, Mr. Bruton immediately became involved in managing family real estate. He had an eye for a good deal and liked to feel that he made money from the moment he purchased real estate. While aggressive in going after land he wanted, Mr. Bruton was careful in his selection of projects to pursue. He liked to explore new frontiers in high-growth areas rather than redevelop existing sites.
It was this unique set of skills that led him to what he considered his greatest achievement, the development of land north of Dallas in Plano. Always on the lookout for a winner, David Bruton, Jr. acquired the land long before Plano experienced its high growth in the 1970s. There he built a home where his family spent weekends and holidays. In 1977, after the land became very valuable because of Plano’s growth, Mr. Bruton arranged for the land to be annexed to the city.
His successes, however, extended well beyond Plano’s boundaries. His impact on Dallas’ growth as a business center continued well past development of the Inwood Industrial District. Kings Row Office Park and Industrial Districts, the Bruton Park Office Complex, the General Motors Parts Depot and the Northlake Shopping Center—all were projects executed by Mr. Bruton. He developed apartment complexes in the Austin and Carrollton areas and had substantial land holding throughout Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. His friend and banker, Robert Stewart III, attributes Mr. Bruton’s great success to his being “a very able, honorable fellow” with “unusual vision in the real estate business.” Colleague Lindsay Embrey credits Mr. Bruton’s conservative yet aggressive style in going after the land he wanted.
But David Bruton, Jr. was not “all business.” An enthusiastic sportsman from his days as an all-star football and hockey player at Fountain Valley High School, he remained active in athletics though out his life, both as a supporter and a participant. He played a major role in building the athletic program at The University of Texas at Austin, offering both financial contributions and personal service to help Coach Darrell Royal with recruitment. He was instrumental in bringing professional basketball to Dallas in the form of the Dallas Chaparrals, now known as the San Antonio Spurs. For his personal enjoyment, he traveled throughout the South to attend football games and play golf, a game he particularly loved. He belonged to many golf and country clubs, and served as president of the Brook Hollow Golf Club. Throughout his diary are descriptions of games, records of football and golf scores, and accounts of hunting trips made with friends in Africa, Alaska and South Texas.
A gregarious, outgoing man, Mr. Bruton enjoyed parties at friend’s homes and various country clubs. He made regular outings to popular Dallas restaurants, current stage productions, movies and the seasonal dinner dances of the Idlewild Club.
He also found great joy in his family. Private moments, like decorating the house and playing Santa at Christmastime, wrestling with his sons, and spending time at Galveston Island and other vacation spots, are recorded in his diary, marking their importance. He would often combine pleasure with business and take his family on drives around Dallas to look at the rapidly changing area.
Mr. Bruton served his chosen home of Dallas in many capacities. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Greenhill School, a trustee of Jesuit High School, and was commissioned a Special Texas Ranger. In 1956, he was asked to serve as one of the organizing members of the Dallas Opera Guild. He was commissioned by Governor John Connally in 1967 and Preston Smith in 1970 as a member of the Joint Board of Park Commissioners. He was active in his field’s professional groups, being co-founder and president of the National Association of Property Owners and a member of the Urban Land Institute and the Society of Industrial Realtors, among many others.
David Bruton, Jr. died December 30, 1979, at the age of 48. His generosity has impacted several generations and, through the endowments he established, will continue to influence others yet to come. He is remembered for his charm, charisma, fun-loving personality and intense devotion to friends and family. The Reverend Clarence V. Westapher, Mr. Bruton’s close friend and religious mentor during years as a member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, recalls, “During my seventeen years of friendship with David, I discovered that he was a soul who celebrated the joys of life, bore with grace the pains of life, and praised the Lord for both. I thank God that he lived among us.”
Story compiled from information provided by the David Bruton Jr. Charitable Trust.
David Bruton, Jr. provided gifts to create several other endowments. Find them by clicking here.