Bill Harvey was unknown to most of us, but his impact on Tarrant County was major-league

11/14/2013 6:39 PM

11/14/2013 6:40 PM

There are many people who work behind the scenes in a community to make it great. The average person doesn’t know their names and isn’t aware of the time, money and effort they donate to make where we live such a great place. They don’t seek out recognition, and in fact often deflect it if it comes their way.

Bill Harvey was such a person.

Harvey passed away earlier this week at age 81, a victim of brain cancer. Although he was well-known in the real estate community, where he made his fortune with Harvey Properties, his name was not a household word. But without him, projects like Alliance Airport, Texas Motor Speedway and the U.S. currency plant might not have gotten done.

But as important as those projects were to Tarrant County, they really weren’t the jewels in his crown.

Bill Harvey’s real passion was helping people, especially children. He donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Food for the Hungry, an international relief and development organization, and traveled the world assessing the needs of kids in Asia, Africa and South America with too little to eat.

And he didn’t just donate money to causes he believed in, he also devoted his time. His daughter and three sons learned valuable lessons from Harvey’s involvement in the Presbyterian Night Shelter. Two nights a week, the entire Harvey family would go to the night shelter to help serve. “He wanted us to help, but he also wanted us to see that life’s not a cakewalk for everybody,’’ son Bourke recalled.

But Harvey also knew how to have fun. He was one of the original investors along with Brad Corbett who bought the Texas Rangers in 1973, and he was a minority owner until 1988, when a group including George W. Bush bought the team. His kids got to run the bases before games and watched the action from seats right behind the dugout. His son Holman is involved in the current Ranger ownership group.

If it sounds like Bill Harvey was a heck of a guy, you’re right.

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