Herb Kelleher and the Armadillo Jet

Letter from Herb Kelleher

Stories about the legendary Herb Kelleher, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines, abound following his death earlier this month. In tribute after tribute, so many who knew him attest to his fun-loving spirit, his hard work and perseverance, his integrity and character. Here was a man who loved and was greatly loved!

While MBC and I never had the good fortune to meet Mr. Kelleher in person, we did have some correspondence with him when he was CEO of Southwest Airlines. MBC and I flew often on Southwest Airlines as we visited elementary schools across the state of Texas. Flying on the Shamu the Whale jet gave MBC an idea: how about a Bluebonnet Armadillo jet?

She could just envision my long armadillo nose painted on the nose of the plane, my bright blue sunbonnet painted on top, and my armadillo tail on the tail of the plane. So she wrote Mr. Kelleher, sent him one of the books she had written about me and asked him to consider creating a Bluebonnet Armadillo jet.

The letter pictured above has been saved in MBC’s files for many years, for she considers it a treasure. Mr. Kelleher responded with kindness and affirmation, while apologizing that due to costs he could not “oblige a ‘Bluebonnet’ Southwest jet.” But he went on to say he would like to purchase copies of the “Bluebonnet” books for gift-giving.

True to his word, he ordered 100 copies of the “Bluebonnet” titles. This remains the largest book order MBC has ever received!

The warmth of his personality, his ability to be supportive and encouraging, even when turning down a request, these are traits that MBC and I have admired ever since we received his letter in 1993. Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines will always have a warm place in our hearts.

MBC and I send our thoughts and prayers to Mr. Kelleher’s family and the employees of Southwest Airlines. And we give thanks for Mr. Kelleher’s well-lived life, that leaves a never-dying legacy of love behind.

As always……..keep reading and writing!

Bluebonnet Armadillo

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