remembering "Big RED"
Texas tycoon and powerhouse sports owner Red McCombs passes away in San Antonio at 95
A true Texas tycoon has passed away at his home in San Antonio. Powerhouse businessman Billy Joe “Red” McCombs died at the age of 95, according to a statement from his family released on Monday, February 20.
“The entire McCombs family is heartbroken to announce that our father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Red McCombs passed away Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023,” the family noted in an Associated Press report. The statement went on to call McCombs “a Texas icon.”
Familiar to those in San Antonio as the high-profile, two-time owners of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, McCombs his sports ownership to the NBA's Denver Nuggets and later, with the NFL as owner of the Minnesota Vikings.
“While Red had a clear passion for sports, it was evident what he loved the most were his children and grandchildren,” the statement noted.
The Texas business icon will also be remembered as the founder of Clear Channel Communications as well as namesake of the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. In his lifetime, McCombs — a self-professed “deal junkie” per his company bio — owned more than 400 businesses via his McCombs Enterprises firm.
Aside from his sports holdings, McCombs is most familiar for his car dealerships via his Red McCombs Automotive group. Notably, the CEO and founder got his start selling cars in the 1950s in Corpus Christi, his bio notes.
Under McCombs' leadership, per McCombs Enterprises, Clear Channel Communications became the largest radio and advertising media company in the world when it went public on the stock market. Clear Channel has since become iHeart Radio.
True to his Texas roots, McCombs later launched an oil and gas company (McCombs Energy), a real estate and land development company (McCombs Properties), and cattle and breeding operations and interest.
As a benefactor, McCombs, along with his family and foundation, have gifted more than $135 million to UT and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, among other organizations and nonprofits.
Beyond the philanthropy and big deals, however, McCombs was family man, as noted in his family's statement: “Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways. But to us he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’”
He is also author of two autobiographies: 2002's The Red Zone: Cars, Cows and Coaches: The Life and Good Times of a Texas Dealmaker, and 2010's Big Red: Memoirs of a Texas Entrepreneur and Philanthropist.
McCombs is survived by daughters Lynda McCombs, Marsha Shields, and Connie McNab, as well as eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, per the family statement. His wife of 69 years Charline, whom his bio names as “the real leader of the family,” passed away in 2019.
Funeral services have yet to be announced.