Billy Joe “Red” McCombs
Remembering RedIn a state that brags everything in it is bigger, Red McCombs stood out. At 6 foot 3 inches tall, with red hair and a booming baritone, McCombs was a giant of entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The Texas legend, namesake of the McCombs School of Business, died Feb. 19, 2023 at age 95.
From Lillian Mills, Dean of the McCombs School of Business
It is with deep sadness that I share the news that our school’s namesake, Red McCombs, has passed away at the age of 95.
It is no understatement to say Red was larger than life – in business, in the community, to his family, to his beloved University of Texas, and to our McCombs School of Business. Red McCombs was a key catalyst in raising Texas McCombs’ stature from that of a top regional school to one of the highest-impact public research business schools in the nation. We are honored that Red and his family have been such integral partners in our shared mission of creating the next generation of business leaders.
Nearly 23 years ago, Red made a transformative gift that, in his words, “aside from my family … was truly the defining moment of my life.” It defined our school, too. With his gift, we attracted matching gifts to endow transformation-supporting endowments for faculty and students. The resulting chairs, professorships, and excellence funds helped us recruit and retain star-quality faculty members and provide them with more resources and grants. The resulting scholarship endowments enabled the school to attract top students and offer income-based scholarships. As our faculty and student quality rose, more corporations came knocking on our doors to hire our graduates and deepen their ties with our school.
A beautiful portrait of Red hangs in my office, and at my appointment as dean, I asked Red to bless my work. In my last visit with Red, he was frail, but his Longhorn affection was strong. I will remember him always with “horns up!”
Red strongly believed that business is at the core of society, that in everything we do, there is some element of planning, fundraising, financing, and operating. In making his gift to Texas McCombs, he was making a business investment in all of us. As we execute our strategic plan with its focus on people, place, and pursuits, we can all be inspired by Red and know that we are continuing his proud investment.
With my own horns up for Red,
More about Red's legacy
From his birth in Spur, Texas, to his ownership of the San Antonio Spurs, Red McCombs has a story as big as Texas. A timeline published to celebrate his 90th birthday.
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of his gift.
Red’s $50 million gift was a milestone in the schools’ history, gave the school its name—and showed us how to dream big. Learn more about the impact of his generosity.
In 2015, one of our writers went down to San Antonio to spend a day with Red and his team.
The McCombs gift: An oral history as told by Red McCombs and the people who made it happen.
Wit, wisdom, and business advice: Quotes from the always quotable Red McCombs.