When a young Glenn Biggs signed on as an administrative assistant to then Texas Speaker of the House Ben Barnes in 1966, no one could guess that their union could help lead to the realization of today’s Guadalupe Mountain National Park.

Barnes reflected on that after he and I attended Biggs’ funeral in San Antonio last week. “He used to bug me almost every day to help him acquire a 78,000 acre ranch owned by a West Texas oil man, to become a national park”, he said. ” I realized later that it was the reason he joined my staff”. Barnes did help and the Guadalupe, which features Texas’ highest mountain, became a national treasure. It was only one example of Biggs’ numerous business and community leadership roles that were enumerated by former Valero Energy CEO Bill Greehey at the memorial service. He recounted how as a director of Diamond Shamrock, Biggs helped persuade that company to merge with Valero rather than sell to an out-of-town owner almost certain to move it away from  San Antonio.”That saved countless local jobs,” Greehey said. He also noted that Biggs was so passionate about supporting the city’s Texas Health Science Center that Greehey donated $25 million on behalf of Valero to the cause.

As a long time personal friend and business associate,
I had the privilege to work with Biggs as he served in leadership roles for several important local and statewide institutions and projects. They included City Public Service of San Antonio and the South Texas Nuclear Project. I also worked with him as he led a visionary project to bring high speed rail to Texas for a cost of only $5 billion at that time.  Years later, as ever-increasing congestion threatens the future of the state, it remains a tragedy that his dream fell to shortsighted opposition.

Beyond his leadership roles, those of us attending the service at San Antonio’s  First Baptist Church heard touching witness for his dedication to faith, family and friends.  He was a giant yet gentle man, both in body and spirit. We do not get many like Glenn Biggs.  He will be missed…a lot.

–Julian Read

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