Rollin King

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Rollin W. King (April 10, 1931 – June 26, 2014) was an American businessman who was co-founder and former director of Southwest Airlines.[1]


Rollin W. King was the Founder and first president of Southwest Airlines Co. and the only director to serve from 1968 for just under 40 years until his retirement at age 75. He served on the executive committee and audit committee during that time. After leaving the management of the airline, Mr. King engaged in executive education and consulting as the principal of Rollin King Associates from January 1, 1989 until his retirement on December 31, 1995, and subsequently he was principally engaged in private investments.

Rollin W. King hired now-famous attorney Herb Kelleher to manage legal affairs for him. At the time, there was a conversation in which Rollin proposed the idea for what would eventually become Southwest Airlines. A direct quote in the Dallas Morning News disputes the entire "business plan on a cocktail napkin" notion, but King agreed with the reporter of the story that it did make for a great story. It is not widely known, but in 1968 Kelleher tried to talk King out of the idea of starting an airline. From 1968 until 1970 King was responsible for recruiting a board of directors, writing the business plan, and raising the money necessary to fund the company's activities aimed at becoming certified by the State of Texas to provide airline service between Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.[2][3]

King died peacefully in Dallas, Texas on June 26, 2014. His funeral was attended by Gary C. Kelly, the chief executive officer of Southwest Airlines, as well as other company representatives.