Robert Rowling

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Robert Rowling
Born1953 (age 70–71)
Nationality (legal)American
Alma materUniversity of Texas at Austin
Southern Methodist University
TitleFounder, TRT Holdings
SpouseTerry Hennersdorf
ParentReese Rowling

Robert B. Rowling (born 1953)[1] is an American billionaire businessman, and the Founder of TRT Holdings, the holding company of Omni Hotels.[2]

Early life[edit]

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Rowling has an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a doctorate in jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University.[2]


In 1972, Rowling began working for Tana Oil and Gas, which was owned by his father, Reese Rowling, and William E Colson.[2] In 1989 Texaco acquired Tana for $476 million, thereby providing money that was used to form TRT Holdings. Five years later, TRT Holdings sold Corpus Christi National Bank to NationsBank for $131 million.[3] TRT Holdings would later purchase Omni Hotels for $500 million and Gold's Gym for $180 million. In August 2010, Rowling made the winning bid to acquire the bankrupt Amelia Island Plantation Resort for $67.1 million.[4] In July 2013, Rowling purchased six resorts from KSL Resorts including The Homestead 1766 in Hot Springs, Virginia.[5]

Rowling served as a regent to the University of Texas System until February 2009 when he resigned over a controversy regarding bonuses paid to the UTIMCO investment staff. Governor Rick Perry and Texas state senators had sought to go back on compensation agreements with the staff. Unwilling to break the contracts and disgusted by their grandstanding, Rowling quit during a Texas Senate Finance Committee meeting and followed it up a day later with a formal letter of resignation [6]

As of May 2017, he is worth US$6.7 billion.[2] He is the 82nd richest person in the United States.[7]

Political activities[edit]

He is a conservative Republican and a major donor to the party.[8] He is also one of four billionaire backers of the conservative political action group American Crossroads.[9][10][11] According to an article published in Forbes, four San Francisco Gold's Gym franchises split off from the brand after Rowling made a $2 million donation to Karl Rove's American Crossroads PAC, sparking protest from gay rights advocates.[12] TRT Holdings has also given an additional $2.5 million from the company treasury this election cycle, according to public filings.[13] He commented to Fox News, explaining that his donation to American Crossroads had nothing to do with social policies that could spark crossfire. "I've never heard one discussion of a social issue. This is all about fiscal sanity."[14]

In April 2020, Governor Greg Abbott named Rowling to the Strike Force to Open Texas – a group "tasked with finding safe and effective ways to slowly reopen the state" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[15]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Terry Hennersdorf Rowling, they have two children, and live in Dallas, Texas.[2][16] They met when they were both studying for their bachelor's degrees in business at the University of Texas at Austin.[16]


  1. ^ "Donor profile: Robert Rowling". 22 August 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Forbes profile: Robert Rowling". Retrieved 25 May 2019.
  3. ^ "NationsBank-Corpus Christi National Bank Merger Approved By CCNB". Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  4. ^ Basch, Mark. "Omni making its mark on the Amelia Island Plantation". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 2024-04-22.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "A copy of Rowling's resignation letter is posted at" (PDF). Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Forbes 400 2017". Forbes. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Robert Rowling is the billionaire Dallas doesn't know". August 24, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  9. ^ ""Grassroots" Rove-linked group funded almost entirely by billionaires". Jul 23, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  10. ^ "Karl Rove-Linked Conservative Group, American Crossroads, Adapts to New Campaign Finance Landscape". August 19, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  11. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (September 25, 2010). "Rove Returns, With Team, Planning G.O.P. Push". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2010.
  12. ^ "Gold's Gym Franchises Revolt Against Billionaire Owner For Funding Rove Group". Forbes. October 26, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  13. ^ Condon, Stephanie (October 26, 2010). "Gold's Gym Faces Backlash After CEO Gives to GOP Group". CBS news. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  14. ^ "This Isn't Working Out: Gold's Gym Franchises Split with Parent Co. Over CEO's American Crossroads Donation". Fox News Channel. October 26, 2010. Retrieved October 28, 2010.
  15. ^ "These are the experts, leaders working with Gov. Abbott's strike force to reopen Texas". 17 April 2020. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  16. ^ a b "Rowling Family Pledges Gift of $25 Million for New Graduate Building at McCombs School of Business". 21 March 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2018.