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'Red McCombs was the anchor for San Antonio' | Texas icon remembered at memorial service

The San Antonio businessman, sports owner and philanthropist died last Sunday at the age of 95.

SAN ANTONIO — A memorial service was held Monday morning to pay tribute to San Antonio business icon Red McCombs. 

McCombs died last Sunday at the age of 95. The service held at the Tobin Center was called “A celebration of a life well lived.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich both spoke during the service.

B.J. Red McCombs created and developed a car dealership empire in the Alamo City. City leaders say McCombs helped to put San Antonio in the national spotlight.

"Red McCombs personifies the saying that everything and everyone is bigger in Texas." Abbott said in his remarks. "He became a standard-bearer for San Antonio, Texas, and the United States."

He served in the Army after World War II and used the GI Bill to study at the business and law schools at The University of Texas at Austin.

"The University of Texas has a slogan: 'What starts here changes the world.' No one has taken that more seriously than Red McCombs," Abbott said.

San Antonio-based real estate mogul Marty Wender reflected on his more than 40-year friendship with McCombs. Wender is known for developing the 3,500 acre Westover Hills development, which became home to SeaWorld San Antonio and the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort Hotel and Spa, among other uses. 

Wender admired that what he and McCombs had in common, including their love for San Antonio and a desire to lead. 

"I would not be here today doing what I have done without my mentorship and friendship of Red McCombs," Wender said.

McCombs moved to San Antonio in 1958 and brought the Dallas Chaparrals basketball team to San Antonio in 1973, renaming them the Spurs. 

"I'm grateful to have known him. I'm grateful to the McCombs family," said former Spurs legend David Robinson in a video tribute at the memorial service.

"He was a larger-than-life figure...his booming voice, his intimidating countenance, his straight-shooting. He suffered no fools...he was a special guy," said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. 

"Red McCombs was the anchor for San Antonio," said former Spurs player Avery Johnson. “My friends, the crowd is going crazy right now in heaven because Red McCombs had been introduced to another life that is going to be with no life, no sorrow, nothing but joy and the crowd’s going crazy because the man that anchored this city and loved so many is now in his heavenly home and he’s rested in peace.”

The billionaire also owned the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Vikings.

He was also a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications.

McCombs was known for his philanthropy, giving $30 million to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. 

"The early lesson of sharing with others left an indelible impression on a young McCombs. He said the joy of giving never ceased to amaze him," Abbott said.

Popovich agreed that McCombs passion for giving was something unique and special.

"This is not just a wheeler-dealer who gave back and loved his family. He really enjoyed all he did," he said. 

He also gave another $50 million to the University of Texas business school, which is named in his honor. Beyond the business school, McCombs helped fund a brand-new softball stadium and the north end zone at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, both named in his honor. 

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