Richard Burton Ballanfant

August 15, 1947 ~ March 29, 2020 (age 72)


Richard Burton Ballanfant (“Burt”), passed away on Sunday, 3/29 in Houston, Texas. Lovingly thought of as a “native Houstonian”, Burt was born on August 15, 1947 to Dick and Autrey Ballanfant. Summers during young years were spent with sisters Anne and Mimi at the family’s Lynnside Ranch near Junction, Texas. A successful boys summer camp, Burt learned to ride Western style, rope, fish, etc. while visiting with other local ranching families. Despite the camp’s success, the 1950’s West Texas drought drove the family to move to California for five years.

Returning to Houston, Burt spent his teen years at M.B. Lamar High School, building his connection to Houston. Aside from engaging in rigorous academics, Burt was exceptionally proud of lettering in track all four years. A defining moment would always be Lamar’s state championship in the 4x100 relay his senior year in 1965.

Burt began college at Vanderbilt University before choosing to return to the University of Texas to complete both his Bachelors and Law degrees. Upon graduation, he joined the 1972 re-election campaign for Sen. John Tower (R-Texas). As one of three executive directors, Burt traveled the state of Texas, studying voter demographics and helping to flip Texas from blue to red. From 1974 until 1978, Burt served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, during which time he was elected President of the area’s Federal Bar Association. His commitment to serve and conservative views would continue to be a core value throughout Burt’s life.

Burt subsequently joined Shell Oil Company in 1980, serving as corporate counsel for 30 years. Resulting in many wins for Shell, Burt’s cases took him all over the world, primarily to Central and South America. In 1999, Burt was elected city councilman, City of West University Place, and then Mayor from 2001-2005. At the end of his mayoral term, Burt had the honor of being elected by a council of peers to join the Metropolitan Transit Authority (METRO) board to help plan for Houston’s next steps in public transportation.

A dedicated public servant, Burt lived his life to the fullest supporting his local community of West University Place, city of Houston, and great state of Texas. His mark will remain on the places he loved - Rice University, Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral, West U sports venues, and local public schools for generations to come.

Burt is survived by his beloved wife Sarah Cobb Ballanfant; daughter Andrea Ballanfant Roe and husband John; son Benjamin Burton Hayes Ballanfant; and daughter Amy Lamar Ballanfant; grandchildren Caroline Roe and William Roe; sister Anne Ballanfant Voss and husband Col. J.G. Voss (USA, ret), and nephew Rick Voss. He is preceded in death by his sister Selma Autrey Ballanfant Buderus.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Memorial Service will be postponed until a future, permitted date. A notification of service details and preferred charitable contributions will be placed in the newspaper at that time. Please e-mail to be put on a notification list.



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