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Norm's Desk

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God Bless Leo Linbeck, Jr.


Like you I was saddened by the news that Leo Linbeck, Jr. has passed away.  Leo was a great man, astute businessman, and great fighter.  In 2008, I had the opportunity to introduce Leo before a collection of business leaders.  My remarks are as true today as they were in 2008, though you are forgiven if you do not remember the movie 300:

Leo, I was thinking about what I was going to say this morning, and I kept thinking about that movie, 300.  
Did you see it?  It came out last year, and its kind of an action movie.  It has a bunch of muscular studs running around with swords wearing absolutely nothing but leather jockstraps.  Not exactly historical, but it is one heck of a movie.
So, what does 300 have to do with Leo?  Don’t worry folks!  I am not asking you to visualize Leo wearing a leather jockstrap!  Try to keep that mental image out of your minds.  
300 is a movie about warriors.  Not just any warriors, the 300 Spartans that held the pass of Thermopylae for 3 days against a Persian army of a million men.  The Persian King Xerxes had decided that he wanted bring the free Greek city-states under his power.  The rule of law and the very idea of freedom were threatened with extinction.
The vast majority of Greek city-states sided with the Persian King.  They were content to sit on the sidelines and watch.   Resist the Persian King?  Too risky, they thought.  Better to wait, watch, and see who wins.  
Just a handful of Greeks, led by 300 Spartans, took up arms at the “Hot Gates.”  It was a choke point, huge mountains on one side and a steep cliff down to the ocean on the other.  In some places the path was only 12 feet wide.  The Persians had to pass through to conquer the Greeks.  The Spartans held them off for three straight days.  They fought first with spears.  When those broke, they fought with their swords, and when those broke, they fought with their teeth.  
They were not watchers.  They were warriors.
Leo, sir, you are not a watcher.  You are a warrior.  You have never been content to sit on the sidelines and wait things out.  Whether it is in the management of Linbeck, the company your father founded, your great work with TLR, the Texas A&M Bonfire Committee, Americans for Fair Taxation, the Federal Reserve Bank, countless Boards and Committees, or as a grandfather.  You have fought the good fight.  Texas and our nation are better off for it.
You were aptly named Leo, not just because you share your father’s name.  Leo means Lion, and that is how we think of you—as a Lion, our Lion.  
Which brings me back to those Spartans, they were led by a lion, too: Leonidas, the Spartan King who shares your name.    
Now, if you have seen the movie, you know that the Spartans were slaughtered to the last man.  But, their example inspired the Greeks to fight and here we sit halfway around the world, 2,500 years later, still talking about those Spartans and their legacy.
Leo, your example inspires me, and all of us, to fight.  Thank you Leo, thank you for being our Lion and our warrior.  
God bless Leo Linbeck, Jr.!



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