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Red McCombs remembered during downtown celebration of life well-lived

Charline and Red McCombs
Courtesy photo
McCombs Enterprises
Charline and Red McCombs

A who's who of elected officials and business leaders bid farewell on Monday to Red McCombs, eulogized at the Tobin Center downtown as the "most significant San Antonian of the 20th century."

The auto magnate's boots and cowboy hat sat near his saddle-covered casket during the service.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich were among those to eulogize the billionaire who died last Sunday at the age of 95.

"Long after all of us are gone, Red's legacy will continue to shape our state, our country, and this great city," Abbott told those at the crowded service.

Abbott recalled meeting McCombs at his San Antonio office, and both men talked about "getting back up." McCombs suffered an alcohol-induced coma that nearly killed him at age 48. Abbott's legs were left paralyzed decades ago after a tree fell on him while jogging during a storm.

"Getting back up, moving forward, even in tough times, is what Red taught everybody how to do," Abbott said.

He built an automotive sales and service empire, but he also was known for his ownership of professional sports teams, including the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets, and the Minnesota Vikings.

Those who spoke at his funeral remembered McCombs's emphasis on making the most of every day and having an expectation of winning. During a tribute video shown at the service, McCombs appeared to say, "I wanted to win my turf."

Popovich, called "Popper" by McCombs, said Red had a booming voice and "did not suffer fools," but he also loved to tell stories and had a great sense of humor.

"There's a whole lot of mush in there. He wasn't this big, tough guy. Down in his soul and his heart he loved to laugh," Popovich said.

Popovich said he first saw McCombs when he showed up at a team practice in a big cowboy hat, boots, and coat with fur around his neck. He said the Spurs owner shouted "Alright, alright, alright!" Popovich said he soon realized this must be the guy in charge.

McCombs gave away tens-of-millions of dollars to charities, including MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and for a new business school building named for him at his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.

McCombs was part of a business group that brought what is now the Spurs to San Antonio. He called the Spurs his biggest community accomplishment. But he called his family his biggest life accomplishment.

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