My alma mater Southwestern University, where I received an undergraduate English degree before going on to the University of Texas for graduate school, has an online listing of books “Authored by Alumni.” And since the list goes alpha by author, that puts my books “Losering” and “Off The Record” in the alphabetical vicinity of two tomes by my fellow Southwestern alumnus Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, a gentleman who definitely went on to make something of himself after dropping out of college in the 1940s.
McCombs was a fairly legendary figure during my wonder years growing up in San Antonio, Texas. Anyone of a certain age there probably remembers the television and radio spots for Hemphill-McCombs Ford, his first car dealership, which was one of the early building blocks of McCombs’ far-flung empire. He went on to own a series of professional sports teams, including the San Antonio Spurs of the old ABA — back when I went to the Spurs summer basketball camp as a teenager, under the delusion that I might actually be able to play the game despite being slow and not particularly tall or fleet of foot.
Along with amassing huge real-estate holdings, McCombs also co-founded the radio giant Clear Channel Communications in 1972. That and other interests add up to a personal fortune of $1.3 billion, which makes McCombs the 1,107th richest person on earth, according to Forbes magazine. Even though that ranking is down a bit from last year (when Forbes had him ranked at No. 913 worldwide), it’s still a figure that dwarfs even Ryan Adams’ net worth.