FULTON, JOSEPH ROLAND

Laurie E. Jasinski
Joseph Roland Fulton (1934–2018).
Joe Fulton, founder of Fulton Construction Company in Corpus Christi, devoted several decades to the commercial development of Corpus Christi both as a builder and as a member and chairman of the Port of Corpus Christi Commission. Photograph courtesy of Mrs. Fran Fulton.

FULTON, JOSEPH ROLAND (1934–2018). Joseph Roland Fulton, engineer and construction contractor, was born in Nash, Bowie County, Texas, on September 6, 1934. He was the son of Joseph Donald Fulton and Karin Virginia (Dodd) Fulton. By 1940 the family lived in Caldwell County in the small town of Prairie Lea, where Fulton’s father served as public school superintendent. They later moved to Olney, Texas, in Young County. Young Joe Fulton attended Olney High School and participated in football, band, Junior Rotarians, and was president of his sophomore class. He graduated in 1951 and briefly attended Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin. Active in the American Association of Architectural Engineers, Fulton received a degree in architectural engineering in 1956.

After graduation, he worked for construction companies in Dallas and Austin and served a stint as a private in the United States Army before moving to Corpus Christi in 1958. He worked for the building firm of O. J. Beck & Sons. In 1975 Joe Fulton founded Fulton Construction Corporation in Corpus Christi. Under his direction the company, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, “shaped Corpus Christi’s iconic skyline and other parts of the city….” Some prominent projects included the Art Museum of South Texas, Nueces County Courthouse, Texas State Aquarium, CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-South, Whataburger Field, Corpus Christi International Airport, and Veterans Memorial High School, as well as the buildings that became Frost Bank Plaza and Omni Corpus Christi Hotel. Colleagues and employees described him as honest and practical with a meticulous attention to detail. Engineering News-Record selected Fulton Construction Corporation as one of the top 400 contracting firms in the United States in 1993.

In addition to his contracting work, Fulton served as a member of the Port of Corpus Christi Commission from 1985 to 1998, and he was chairman of the commission from 1991 through 1996. In this capacity he helped increase Corpus Christi’s industrial profile. A twelve-mile connecting highway to the port opened in 2011 and was named the Joe Fulton International Trade Corridor in his honor.

Fulton was a longtime member of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and served as an officer for a number of its national and regional offices, including life director on the AGC’s national board and president of the South Texas AGC. His civic service included his work as chairman of the Corpus Christi Area Economic Development Corporation and the Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau. He served on the boards of Cullen/Frost Bank and the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce and was trustee and chairman of the Driscoll Foundation. Fulton received the Kirkland Award for Distinguished Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi in 1998.

He retired in 2001 and sold his business to Philip Skrobarczyk. Fulton had an interest in history, especially the Civil War era, and was an avid collector of related books and memorabilia. He was a member of the Texas State Historical Association and served on that organization’s board from 2005 to 2011. He also held memberships in the Centurion Club, the Corpus Christi Country Club, and the Corpus Christi Yacht Club.

Joseph Roland Fulton died in Corpus Christi on February 15, 2018. He was survived by his wife Frances Elizabeth, whom he had married in 1972, four children, two stepchildren, and five grandchildren. His funeral was held at First United Methodist Church, and he was buried in Seaside Memorial Cemetery in Corpus Christi.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 17, 2018. Tim Olmeda, “Joe-Fulton Corridor officially opens,” Nueces County Record Star, October 18, 2011 (https://www.recordstar.com/multimedia/photos/featured/article_57cb6275-4672-5ce5-af1c-fb03acc0d57f.html), accessed December 5, 2018. Chris Ramirez and Monica Lopez, “Veteran developer Joe Fulton helped sculpt Corpus Christi’s skyline,” Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 15, 2018 (https://www.caller.com/story/news/local/2018/02/15/veteran-developer-joe-fulton-helped-sculpt-corpus-christis-skyline/340486002/), accessed December 4, 2018.

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Handbook of Texas Online, Laurie E. Jasinski, "FULTON, JOSEPH ROLAND," accessed December 12, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffult.

Uploaded on December 6, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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