This week the community has been overwhelmed by silence, moments of silence, all to honor the passing of community leader and Manatee Chamber of Commerce President Bob Bartz. His impact on the community was obvious and powerful.
Bob was one of a kind and cast a big shadow. He was the creator and chief architect of the most successful Chamber of Commerce in the state of Florida. The Manatee Chamber won multiple state and a national Chamber of Commerce of the Year Award under his diligent leadership. He grew the Manatee Chamber of Commerce to be the largest in the Tampa Bay region and pound for pound one of the most influential.
But it wasn’t all about business and commerce. He insisted that the mission statement of the chamber be intertwined with community. It states, “Our mission is to build a positive business environment while enhancing our community’s quality of life.” Quality of life was important to him. He felt we had a great quality of life here and he loved this community.
He had opportunities to take advantage of offers from bigger Chambers for more money. But, he knew that Manatee County was home and his love of the natural beauty and the great people he called friends kept him here.
Most of all, Bob loved his family and was a man of faith. His three granddaughters were a great source of pride. His compassion was boundless, and he chose to try and understand rather than judge. It was not unusual for Bob to break out in tears of joy or sympathy for others. While it was not something he would have liked everyone to know, it spoke of his authenticity and love of people. It is not often we are blessed to have among us someone with such wholeness and sense of purpose.
Well accomplished and successful in business, strong in his family values and a friend to anyone who needed him, that is the standard Bob Bartz set for us all.