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Herbert D. Kelleher (born March 12, 1931) is the co-founder, and former chairman and CEO of Southwest Airlines (based in the United States).

Kelleher was born and raised in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, where he graduated from Haddon Heights High School.[1] He has a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctor from New York University. At Wesleyan he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He is married to the former Joan Negley and they have four children. The Kellehers moved to Texas intending to start a law firm or a business.

Herb Kelleher at the 2007 Tony Jannus Awards

Legend has it that Kelleher and one of his law clients, Texas businessman Rollin King, created the concept that later became Southwest Airlines on a cocktail napkin in a San Antonio, Texas restaurant. From its birth in 1971 — after overcoming a year's worth of legal challenges from competitors who tried to keep it grounded — Southwest has succeeded by daring to be different: offering low fares to its passengers by eliminating unnecessary services and avoiding the "hub-and-spoke" scheduling system used by other airlines in favor of building traffic in such secondary airports as Albany, Chicago-Midway (instead of Chicago-O'Hare) and Orange County.

During his tenure as CEO of Southwest, Kelleher's colorful personality created a corporate culture which made Southwest employees well-known for taking themselves lightly—often singing in-flight announcements to the tune of popular theme songs—but their jobs seriously: Southwest has never had an in-flight fatality. Southwest is consistently named among the top five Most Admired Corporations in America in Fortune magazine's annual poll. Fortune has also called him perhaps the best CEO in America. Mr. Kelleher was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2004.

On July 19, 2007, Southwest Airlines announced that Kelleher would step down from the role of Chairman and resign from the board of directors in May 2008, though he would remain a full time employee for another five years.[2] Kelleher ultimately stepped down as chairman on May 21, 2008. Immediately following, Southwest Airlines named current CEO, Gary C. Kelly the new Chairman of the Board of Directors. [3]

Kelleher is the 1993 recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for outstanding leadership in the commercial aviation industry.[4]

References

  1. ^ Blackwell, Charles W. "Flying High with Herb Kelleher: A Profile in Charismatic Leadership.", Journal of Leadership Studies, June 22, 1999. Accessed November 2, 2007. "Graduating from Haddon Heights High School where he distinguished himself as an athlete and student body president, Kelleher's first job was at Campbell Soup Company where he worked for six summers, joining his dad who was General Manager."
  2. ^ Kelleher leaving Southwest nest | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News
  3. ^ Southwest Airlines Names New Chairman of the Board
  4. ^ "Tony Jannus Award past recipients". Tony Jannus Society. http://www.tonyjannusaward.com/legacy.html. Retrieved 2008-03-29.  

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