David Chappell, Fort Worth attorney and civic leader, has died

David Chappell

David Chappell, Fort Worth attorney, civic leader and former city councilman, died Thursday, Nov. 18. He was 78.

Chappell’s passing was confirmed by his business partner, former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, who said Chappell died after suffering a setback following surgery last week in Dallas.

“David was a great friend for almost 50 years,” Barr said. “He was always there for his friends when they had challenges.”

Barr said a Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, at First Presbyterian Church, 1000 Penn St., Fort Worth. A reception will follow at Ridglea Country Club, 3700 Bernie Anderson Ave.

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A 1968 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Chappell practiced law for many years before teaming up with Barr in BC Collaborations, a consulting firm focusing “not only on supporting established businesses, but also on working with companies that are developing new technologies and new products,” according to the firm’s website.

Chappell was elected to the Fort Worth City Council representing District 9 in 1989, serving until 1993. He was a member of the council’s Economic Development Committee and played an active role in helping to secure the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth after the Defense Department announced the closing of Carswell Air Force Base in 1991.

Chappell was known as a strong advocate for economic sustainability and growth in North Texas, serving as chairman of numerous innovation-oriented organizations including the National Advisory Council of the United States Small Business Administration, North Texas Regional Council on Innovation and Commercialization, and the Center for Public Policy Priorities. In 2019, he joined with a group of leaders connected with the UNT Health Science Center, to plan and execute the successful first annual “Investing in Biotech” Conference. The conference was targeted at enhancing the role of entrepreneurism and biotech investing in Tarrant County.

“David was a long-time friend of TechFW.  In fact, he was a member of the commission back in the early ’90s that recommended that TechFW be created in the first place,” said Darlene Boudreaux, former head of TechFW. “He and the others on the commission believed the city was too dependent on the defense industry and needed to diversify the economy.  They believed one of the four main steps to accomplish this was to have an independent nonprofit focused on helping technology startups, with a particular focus on life science technologies. When I became the Executive Director of TechFW in 2006, David was one of my closest advisers, always whispering in my ear to remind me of the history and purpose of TechFW and make sure I stayed on that path. David later was one of the earliest members of Cowtown Angels, believing he could make a difference by helping to fund some of those startups. The community has lost one of its best longtime advocates for economic growth.”

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“David Chappell was a terrific public servant when he served on the city council,” said Richard L. Connor, publisher of the Business Press. “I was publisher of the Star-Telegram when David was a council member. We frequently had lunch as David studied and learned the role of public opinion. We were not always on the same side politically in those days but we became friends and stayed in touch almost constantly. He was a true friend of the Business Press, too.”

Chappell served as served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Medical City Fort Worth Hospital. His experience included service on the prestigious Code Red Study of Access to Care and Insurability in Texas, which culminated in a comprehensive set of recommendations for reform in Texas health care delivery. He served as chairman of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which focused on policy development with special emphasis on health care in Texas. He was asked to serve on the United Healthcare Texas Advisory Board.

During a distinguished legal career, he was recognized as an “Attorney of Excellence” for 35 years by Martindale Hubbell and received “Super Lawyer” designation six times from Texas Monthly Magazine. He served as chair of the board of The State Bar of Texas and served in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association for 11 years.

“It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of our former Cantey Hanger colleague David Chappell,” said Brian Newby, managing partner for Cantey Hanger, where Chappell was an attorney for several years. “An accomplished litigator and counselor, David was a pillar in the Texas legal community and left an indelible mark on the City of Fort Worth, our public schools, healthcare services and emerging businesses. To friends and colleagues, he was someone they always could turn to for sage advice and counsel. He will be sorely missed by all.” 

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Chappell was preceded in death by his wife Ann Sutherland Chappell, a well-known communications professional and community activist. She died in February 2020.

This article includes information from the BC Collaborations website.