From Dr. Larry Schlesinger, CEO & President
Our community, state and world has lost one of its greatest visionaries with the passing of B.J. “Red” McCombs. I knew him as a fierce advocate for the importance of biomedical research, and our Institute is eternally grateful for his commitment to our success and growth over many years.
Red served on the Texas Biomed Board of Trustees for 16 years. His daughter, Marsha Shields, continues that legacy as a member of the board’s executive committee now.
The impact he had on our city and beyond is immense. He was an advocate of progress who moved big ideas into actions and visions into realities. His brand of unwavering philanthropy and support is rare and incredibly special in San Antonio.
When I arrived here in 2017 as the new Texas Biomed President and CEO, Red was one of the first leaders I met with. From his famous spot behind his imposing office desk, he reminded me I was recruited for bold leadership. He urged me to drive biomedical innovation forward, faster, with expansive thinking resembling a global institute rather than a local research center. Red never thought small and was always pushing for excellence – traits we both shared.
McCombs and his family have donated generously to fund research and expansion projects at Texas Biomed. A recent example was how his foundation, at the very beginning of the pandemic, joined with several other local philanthropies and funders in raising more than $5 million in a record few weeks so that Texas Biomed could investigate potential COVID vaccines and therapeutics. It was San Antonio’s own version of Operation Warp Speed, in a sense!
Below are some direct quotes from our archives from McCombs about his support of biomedical research and science:
I have the greatest respect for researchers who can conduct a daily search for all of the answers, despite the fact that they have no promise of success. It’s the inquisitive, intelligent aspect to their work that I find fascinating.
Most of the things I’m involved in have an obvious “win or loss” tag. To do what the scientists do daily — through dogged determination — to stay the course and stay so strongly motivated by it, has made a deep impression on me.