When Barbara Pearce wanted to spend time with her father, it usually meant helping him out at his real estate business.

“If you want to spend time with somebody who has a startup, you spend it there,” she said.

Her father, Herbert Pearce, started his real estate company, H. Pearce Real Estate, in 1958, when Barbara was a toddler. When she was little, she would ride around with him as he planted “open house” signs in front of homes. As a teenager, she worked summers at the North Haven-based company.

After graduating from Harvard College, Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School, Pearce practiced law before returning in 1981 to the family real estate business, this time as an officer of the company.

Pearce and her husband, Norm Fleming, also an attorney, had decided that one practicing lawyer in the family was enough. Plus, the couple was starting a family.

Real estate “was a more flexible, better lifestyle,” she said.

She worked with her father for many years. He died in April just three days before his 95th birthday.

“He worked up until the very end,” she said.

Supporting Dyslexia Research

H. Pearce Real Estate has seven offices, including two that specialize in commercial real estate. Pearce said the current economic downturn has hammered both the residential and commercial real estate markets.

“The market is not good, and it’s getting old,” she said. “People aren’t buying real estate. They’re not buying commercial, and they’re not buying residential.”

One mainstay for Pearce during challenging times has been physical activity. A marathon runner, biker and swimmer, she said, “Physical activity will kill most ills.”

Extremely active in many charities in the North Haven area, Pearce has recently focused her volunteer efforts on the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. She became interested in the research because both her children, Bradley, 27, and Hope, 23, are dyslexic.

H. Pearce Real Estate was recently certified as a Women Business Enterprise. Although there are many more women working in residential real estate than when she started out, there are still few on the commercial side, Pearce noted.

Barbara Pearce

by The Commercial Record time to read: 1 min