Rollin King, a Texas businessman who joined Herb Kelleher to found Southwest Airlines Co.c, has died, the carrier said Friday. He was 83.
King suggested the idea of an intrastate Texas airline to Kelleher, his attorney who would become Southwest’s longtime chief executive officer. They famously drew the route plan for Southwest — a triangle connecting Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — on a cocktail napkin at a San Antonio bar in 1967.
Southwest, which introduced the concept of no-frills, low fare, point-to-point flights, has grown to become the largest domestic airline in terms of passengers carried. It recently began flights outside of the U.S. to Mexico and the Caribbean.
King and Kelleher led the airline through a series of legal battles with Braniff, Continental and other airlines, first over Southwest’s right to begin service and later over operating at Dallas Love Field. The struggle culminated with arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, before the airline began flights in 1971.
Rollin White King was born on April 10, 1931, in Cleveland, according to Marquis Who’s Who.
In 1955, he earned a B.A. degree from Western Reserve University, which is now Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1962. King moved to Texas to become a partner in a new investment counseling firm and in 1964 bought a small air charter firm.