Herb Kelleher
Name: Herb Kelleher
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Gender: Male
Birth Day: March 12, 1931
Age: 89
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign: Pisces

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Herb Kelleher

Herb Kelleher was born on March 12, 1931 in United States (89 years old). Herb Kelleher is an Entrepreneur, zodiac sign: Pisces. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: $2.5 Billion. With the net worth of $2.5 Billion, Herb Kelleher is the #658 richest person on earth all the time in our database.


He wrote the idea for Southwest Airlines on a napkin at a Texas restaurant.

Net Worth 2020

$2.5 Billion
Find out more about Herb Kelleher net worth here.


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Before Fame

He graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in English and from NYU with a law degree.


Biography Timeline


Kelleher was born in Camden, New Jersey, on March 12, 1931, and raised in Audubon, New Jersey, where he graduated from Haddon Heights High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University where he was an Olin Scholar and where his major was English and his minor Philosophy, and a Juris Doctor (cum laude) from New York University School of Law where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar.


After clerking for a New Jersey Supreme Court justice, Kelleher moved to Texas intending to start a law firm or a business. Kelleher and one of his law clients, Texas businessman Rollin King, created the concept with banker John Parker that later became Southwest Airlines. An often retold founding myth claimed the business plan was written out on a cocktail napkin in a San Antonio restaurant, though Kelleher and King have both stated that there was no literal cocktail napkin. They originally devised a very simple plan of connecting the Texas Triangle with low-cost air service, patterned largely on California's Pacific Southwest Airlines. After incorporating the company initially as "Air Southwest Co." in 1967, Kelleher and King faced four years of setbacks and legal challenges from competitors that culminated in winning key cases before the Supreme Court of the United States in December 1970 and the Supreme Court of Texas in June 1971. The first flights finally took off on June 18, 1971.


Reflecting back on that time Kelleher said, "I think my greatest moment in business was when the first Southwest airplane arrived after four years of litigation and I walked up to it and I kissed that baby on the lips and I cried." Kelleher's early involvement in the company was helping the company navigate legal concerns and as an advisor to the operation and later as general counsel. Lamar Muse was hired as CEO, but after struggles between Muse and King escalated over the next several years, Muse resigned in 1978. Kelleher was installed as Chairman of the Board in March of that year and the board appointed him as temporary CEO until hiring Howard Putnam as the new CEO and President. In 1981, after Putnam left to head Braniff Airways, he was appointed the full-time CEO and President, positions he held for 20 years.


Kelleher's outrageous personality created a corporate culture which made Southwest employees well known for taking themselves lightly but their jobs seriously. His culture-leadership was well-demonstrated in an arm-wrestling event in March 1992. Shortly after Southwest started using the "Just Plane Smart" motto, Stevens Aviation, who had been using "Plane Smart" for their motto, threatened a trademark lawsuit, which was resolved between Kelleher and Stevens Aviation CEO Kurt Herwald in an arm-wrestling match, now known as "Malice in Dallas". Kelleher lost the match, but was allowed to use the slogan in exchange for a $5,000 charitable donation and conceding Southwest's legal claim to the slogan.


Kelleher was known for getting little sleep and for his affinity for Wild Turkey bourbon and cigarettes. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, and underwent radiation therapy. He died on January 3, 2019, in Dallas at the age of 87.


In March 2001, Kelleher stepped down as CEO and president of Southwest. He passed the CEO role onto James Parker and the president role to Colleen Barrett, although he remained chairman. In July 2007, Southwest announced that Kelleher would step down as chairman and resign from the board of directors in May 2008. The retirement of Barrett as president was announced at the same time, though the two would remain full-time employees for another five years. Kelleher ultimately stepped down as chairman on May 21, 2008. Immediately following, Southwest Airlines filled both the chairman and president positions with then-current CEO Gary C. Kelly, who had taken over the CEO position from Parker three years earlier. Kelleher was given the title of chairman emeritus with an office at Southwest Airlines headquarters and he remained connected to the company until his death in 2019.


In July 2010, Kelleher was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas board of directors for 2011. Kelleher's term expired in 2013. Previously, he had served as deputy chair.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Herb Kelleher is 91 years, 3 months and 14 days old. Herb Kelleher will celebrate 92nd birthday on a Sunday 12th of March 2023.

Find out about Herb Kelleher birthday activities in timeline view here.

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