The Manatee Chamber of Commerce announced Bob Bartz, president of the organization, died yesterday. Bartz led the Manatee Chamber since 1982 and grew the organization to upwards of 2,100 members, creating the largest chamber on the Gulf Coast.

Statement from the Manatee Chamber:

"We have lost a dear friend, valued colleague and selfless leader. Bob Bartz passed yesterday afternoon. His wife Vicki and son Jason were at his side. Our grief and confusion at this time are coupled with the deepest sympathy we have for what Bob's family must be feeling. Our hearts and prayers go out to them now and in the very difficult time ahead. The Manatee Chamber will provide grief counseling to employees and friends of Bob who may be feeling overwhelmed during this difficult time. Grief counselors are onsite this morning at both Chamber offices. We will share funeral service arrangements in the coming days. Vicki, Jason, Catherine, Bob’s three granddaughters and their entire family need our prayers and support during these very difficult times, as does our entire Chamber family. Bob’s impact and influence on so many people and this community is immeasurable."