Andrew Baird Linbeck ‘83 belonged to an unquestioned professional pedigree of highest achievement where he was recognized for his own towering personal greatness.
Yet, Linbeck’s most lasting legacy is possessing an unmatched level of caring and philanthropy that could energize a group from Wall St. to Main St. to a neighborhood pocket community. He collected people, uniting and inspiring them through the power of his convictions.
Linbeck was 53 years old when he lost a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer in November 2017, survived by his beloved wife Shanna, and their three daughters, Savanna, Miranda, and Danielle. He was remembered then and forever for his “grace and dignity under extreme circumstances,” as “the most giving person you’ll ever meet.” A “great friend” and “a mentor” with “infectious optimism” whose “signature phrase was ‘what can I do for you?’”
“Many of us try to place others ahead of our self-interests,” says Lyle Eastham, who grew a deep friendship with Linbeck through Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart where their daughters attended. “Andrew exemplified that quality, whether providing water wells for thousands of kids in Africa or handing out coats to the city’s homeless. Agape love – unconditional love – was Andrew’s trademark. It was his license plate. Unconditional – to his family, to my family, to friends and colleagues. I thought I practiced that quality until I met Andrew, then I knew I had work to do.”
Linbeck’s grandfather Leo was a craftsman who founded Linbeck Construction. Andrew followed his father Leo Jr. ‘52, a revered Texas business leader, in earning an undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, and then added his Master in the Executive Management Program at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University.
In 1987, Linebeck entered the financial services industry, working at Kidder Peabody, Paine Webber, and The Redstone Companies. In 2002, he co-founded Salient Partners, one of Houston’s largest investment and wealth management services. The firm had $4.5 billion in assets under management when it was acquired by Westwood Holdings Group, Inc. in November 2022.
“Andrew was a natural born leader from his time at St. Thomas,” says classmate and confidant Kurt Hanson ‘83. “He was undaunted to be successful and to do it with integrity. That was easy to identify.”
Under the surface was a steadfast resiliency that matched Linbeck’s ambition.
“Andrew was dyslexic,” Eastham says. “In some ways, he operated in the shadow of his older brother (Leo III ‘79) who was a brilliant student. Andrew always stressed that the world is filled with individuals with average intelligence who could perform extraordinary things if they worked hard enough. That was Andrew. He would want every St. Thomas student to understand that whatever his passion, persevere through the obstacles, follow the dreams until they’re realized.”
Matt Newton first encountered Linbeck for a quasi job interview at the defunct Ale House on West Alabama St. The two would soon launch a business relationship in the unpredictable private equity world that thrived for nearly two decades.
“Andrew’s attitude centered on positivity, passion, and always about people,” Newton says. “He was composed and confident in the face of market and economic turbulence. He was a mentor in every sense, both professionally and personally. I saw how Andrew properly prioritized his life. He was driven and work was important, but when family demands warranted, work was turned off. Causes were significant, institutions were significant. Religion. He wanted to be involved, a servant leader by every definition.”
Linbeck embodied his faith by serving many Catholic organizations, but a particular focus was the Margil House of Studies which was founded by his great aunt and godmother, Mary Neal Davis. He took over the organization, dedicated to the work of Fr. Margil de Jesus, a 17th-century Franciscan priest who founded missions throughout Texas.
The devotion was an acute source of comfort and strength during his cancer fight. Hanson took part in a pilgrimage to East Texas that Linbeck organized to fully illustrate the impact of “The Eyes Fr. Margil.”
“As much as it was a healing exercise for Andrew, it was more about him giving his Catholic community of friends an awareness of where their faith originated in Texas,” Hanson says. “Even when fighting for his life, he was searching for ways to influence those around him for the better.”
Months later, a random Hanson phone call found Linbeck in Arizona enduring a series of experimental clinical trials. “He was going through a rough stretch. I told him I was only a Southwest flight away if he needed support. He called back 10 minutes later and said, ‘Earth, Wind and Fire are playing here tomorrow night. You and (Hanson’s wife) Susan need to come out for that.’ We arrived the next morning. I went with Andrew through his treatment, then spotted a Whataburger for lunch. The manager allowed us behind the counter to make our cheeseburgers. That night we went to the concert (“changing the minds of pretenders while chasing the clouds away.”). Andrew was so real. There was levity even during some dark times. And that’s what he wanted.”
Linbeck was infused and inspired by the renowned Basilian principles of goodness, discipline, and knowledge, and perhaps subconsciously by the ancient Roman poet Virgil, whose Latin “sic vos non vobis” roughly translates to, “Thus do you, but not for you.”
“If you had wanted a representative to talk to students about what it takes to be a Man of St.Thomas, to be part of the brotherhood, Andrew was the prime candidate,” Hanson says. “He embodied the virtues and remains an inspiration to us all.”
Lineback’s journey was a pursuit of spiritual worthiness and personal excellence that required diligence and repetition. He robustly lived and loved, gave without needing to receive in return. He joins patriarch Leo Jr. as the first father/son tandem to enter the Hall of Honor, the school’s most cherished alumni recognition.
“I think Andrew is looking down and saying, ‘Why did you do that?’ He was always modest, never searching the spotlight,” Hanson says. “At the same time, I’m confident he respects the distinction and understands what it means to his family and friends. I know that his presence is felt every day by those who had the privilege to know him.”
Catholic. Basilian. Teaching Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge since 1900.