Patrick Bruggeman, a lawyer, real estate developer and investor who was instrumental in helping Fort Wayne rebound after International Harvester ceased production here, died Thursday. He was 66.
Bruggeman was a graduate of Central Catholic High School, had a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard Law school. In 1973, he joined the law firm of Barrett, Barrett & McNagny, where his father was a senior attorney, but he only practiced for a few months before quitting the law business.
“He was probably one of the brightest persons I ever met,” Robert Walters said Monday.
Walters, a lawyer with Barrett McNagny, said he knew Bruggeman for more than 40 years.
“He really enjoyed the world of business. He was the quintessential dealmaker. He knew everything that was going on and he knew everybody. He found opportunities.”
Walters said Bruggeman was honest and made deals with a handshake. While he was heavily involved in real estate, he was also an angel investor investing in startups, Walters said.
In 1976, he bought and remodeled the 60-year-old Central Building on the southwest corner of Wayne and Harrison streets in downtown Fort Wayne. He formed Keystone Investors Ltd. in that time frame, and in 1982 explored buying, renovating and expanding Keystone Industrial Park near West Washington Center Road.
Bruggeman’s most significant contribution to the community began in 1983, when he and some business partners created International Park from the former International Harvester truck manufacturing plant. They bought the 2.3 million square feet of space and developed it into a multipurpose business complex that solicited commercial tenants who needed warehousing, manufacturing, retail or office space.
Other Bruggeman investments have included buildings on West Columbia Street, in an area known as The Landing; a downtown parking garage; an indoor soccer team; and residential developments.
He was one of 21 people appointed by former Mayor Win Moses Jr. in 1985 to draft a downtown development plan.
On Monday, Journal Gazette executive Steve Inskeep said, “Pat Bruggeman was a Journal Gazette Co. shareholder and a dear friend to the Inskeep family. He was an astute investor whose views, grounded in decency and integrity, were always appreciated.”
Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer, contacted Monday, got to know Bruggeman through his real estate investments.
He said Bruggeman played a role in at least 10 housing developments.
“He taught me a lot about development,” Bandemer said. “To say the least he was a unique individual. He was extremely smart. He could sniff out that stuff.”
Bandemer said Bruggeman was involved financially in a lot of different projects, “But he really loved real estate.”
He is survived by his daughter, Bridget, and son, Anthony.