George Rodney Bolin
January 21, 1934 – May 20, 2020
Longtime Houston businessman, outdoorsman, and Texas conservationist George Rodney Bolin passed away on Wednesday, the 20th of May, 2020. George was a native Houstonian born to LT Bolin and Madaline Goforth Bolin on January 21, 1934. He attended Poe Elementary, Lanier Middle School, Lamar High School, and was in the 2nd graduating class of St. John’s School in 1952. After attending Vanderbilt University and The University of Texas, he returned to Houston to begin his lifelong career in commercial real estate. As an only child, George Bolin grew up around the docks of Brown Shipbuilding where his father built a shipyard, and then as general manager, built ships for the US Navy during WWII. From the shipyard, to the Brown & Root hunting and fishing camps at Anahuac and Fort Clark, to fishing the Flower Gardens out of Galveston on his father’s “research vessel”, he was “free range” before free range was a thing. George was a licensed Texas Real Estate Broker since 1958, and he kept his license active for 61 years. Appointed by Gov. John B. Connally, Jr. to serve six years as a member of the Texas Real Estate Commission, including 2 years as its chairman, he was active in the commercial real estate brokerage and development business at various firms bearing his name. One of George's greatest relationships was with Trammell Crow. He helped Trammell assemble his first Houston land, 52 acres belonging to RE “Bob” Smith. Trammell waited until the last day of the option to decide to buy it, so George was to fly to Dallas last minute to get the contract signed. He missed his flight (terrifying for a 24-year-old facing a career-changing deal), but Trammell told him by phone, “Just put my signature on the contract” and so, with a shaky hand, he did. Suddenly, his small firm was the biggest real estate company in Houston, exclusively representing Trammell Crow and Gerald Hines. Then in 1969 he put together and led the team of brokers and attorneys that secretly assembled 33 contiguous blocks in downtown Houston for Texas Eastern Transmission Corp. It was cloak-and-dagger under his own name – he officed out of a secret space through the computer room at Texas Eastern headquarters overlooking the target area, and the company told everyone the team were IRS agents. It took nine months to acquire the tracts from 155 different owners, and remains to this day the largest single assemblage of property in a downtown urban core in the US. The area is now known as and encompasses Houston Center, Discovery Green, Hilton Americas, and the George R Brown Convention Center. He was a founding member of the Gulf Coast Conservation Association (GCCA), now Coastal Conservation Association (CCA). Appointed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC) by Gov. Mark White, he served as commissioner and subsequent vice-chairman for 6 years. At the TPWC, he was a central figure in “the Redfish Wars,” resulting in gamefish status and protection for Texas’s premier in-shore fishery. At TPWC, he was directly involved with the acquisition of multiple properties, including adding Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Mad Island and Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Areas to the state’s portfolio, in effect doubling the size of Texas’s state-owned protected lands. Working with the Galveston Bay Foundation, he helped to lessen the impact of enlargement of the Houston Ship Channel to mitigate some of its most damaging effects. Driven by the health of Texas’ ecosystems, his natural adversaries were polluters, gill-netters, game thieves, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. He was in the right place, in the right role, at the right time, to make significant contributions to the protection of Texas’s wildlife and the expansion of its natural landholdings and state parks. George was the original founder and builder of The Mansfield Club in Port Mansfield (now Laguna Madre Club), a founding member of the Galveston Bay Foundation, past president of the Houston chapter of Vanderbilt University Alumni Association, past president of the Houston chapter of Phi Delta Theta Alumni Association, lifelong member of River Oaks Country Club, member at The Houston Downtown Athletic Club, and managing partner and part owner of the Houston Aeros professional hockey team during the championship Gordie Howe years. He was also active as Lifetime Director and Officer of The 100 Club of Houston. He always said of all the groups with which he worked, this was the most important for the impact it had on the lives of families of first responders. He was a strict “law and order man”. Whether it was a Houston police officer, a Harris County deputy sheriff, a Texas game warden or state trooper, he always had great respect for their dedication and what they endured. He made an exception for la Policia de Matamoros who stole his Chevy Suburban before offering to sell it back to him for $2,000. George was a storyteller nonpareil, and he loved spending the day on a boat and the evening around a mesquite-wood campfire – his “South Texas TV” - under the year-round Christmas lights, hosting his many friends from around the country. A favorite story was the time he asked, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was arrested for murder?” A lifelong recreational pilot and conservationist, crack shot and avid wadefisherman, rancher, real estate broker and developer, he taught his four boys to hunt and fish, to captain a boat, to drive a jeep, and a couple of his boys how to fly a plane. Many years were spent exploring, up and down the Texas Coast, from Port O’Connor to Port Mansfield, throughout the Brush Country of deep South Texas, and multiple hunting and fishing incursions into Mexico. Earning his private pilot certificate on his 16th birthday, flying became a way of life. He taught his boys to “fly” as kids as they were each assigned a quadrant to scan for traffic, trained to listen to the radio for “Cessna 26X-Ray”, and most importantly, to wake him up if they heard or saw anything. Among his many talents, staying awake was not one of them. Eventually, he gave up the left seat to let the boys fly him around for real. Whether landing on the beach in Mexico to fish the surf for a week, or in and out of the very busy Houston Hobby Airport, it was never boring. He always included his boys in everything he did, and often their friends. Known to everyone simply as “George,” many were the trips, experiences, and expeditions with “The Bolin Boys”© and their friends throughout South Texas, the Bahamas, and the Florida Keys. George specifically wished to gratefully acknowledge Betsy for singlehandedly and simultaneously raising four teenage boys. He knew it was not easy. Having four boys in three years led to a life of controlled chaos at times, akin to herding monkeys. The family has been touched by the outpourings of love in the many calls, emails, cards and letters from multi-generational friends and acquaintances whose paths crossed over the years. He was a friend to people of all beliefs, politicians of all parties, owners of businesses of all types, artists, astronauts, professional athletes, the builders, movers and shakers of Houston the city and Texas the state he loved. He had a different breakfast and lunch group for every day of the week, but his Saturday lunch was reserved for his family, so long as he could get back to his beloved UT Longhorn sports on TV, whether football, basketball, baseball, or JV Lady Longhorns Blindfolded Underwater Horseshoes; if it was on, he watched it, and the family got the recap! Preceded in death by his parents LT and Madaline Bolin and infant daughter Sally Cullum Bolin, he is survived by his wife of 41 years, Teresa “Tish” Matthews Bolin, his former wife Betsy Cullum Bolin, mother to his sons Brooks (wife Julie), Scott (wife Judy), Kyle, and Kelly (wife Charner), and his seven granddaughters Annalisa, Veronica, Cullum, Mabry, Madaline, Stella, and Piper. His boys, their wives, and his seven granddaughters especially wish to thank Tish for her many years of love and devotion to George. From the moment they first met when she tugged on his beard, to eloping to Vegas after only 6 dates, and through their 42 years together, Tish was a loving and devoted wife who shared in the many adventures of George’s long life. Whether traveling through Burgundy for wine tastings, pheasant hunting in Spain, to Port O’Connor to endure the Poco Bueno fishing tournament in his front yard, fishing out of The Mansfield Club, or the quail camp in South Texas, she was always the steady voice of reason that kept him grounded and headed in the right direction. She traveled with him through boom and bust and back again. Tish is a saint who has earned her place in heaven, and the family is grateful for the time they had together, “forever and a day.” The family is also very grateful to Joshua Bell for the personal care and attention he provided, and to Houston Hospice who helped through this difficult time. For anyone wishing to make a memorial gift, the family would appreciate if they were directed to The 100 Club of Houston, 5555 San Felipe St., Suite 1750, Houston, TX 77056-5527, or the charity of your choice, in his name. It was a good, long, well-lived life, one hell of a ride, more fun than a barrel of monkeys, and always entertaining. Late in life, George emphatically said with a smile, “I did everything I wanted to do, and I have no regrets.”
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
George Rodney Bolin
May 24, 2020
Very early in my career - George hired me to represent him on leasing some office buildings he built in Houston. He could not of been nicer and more helpful to a young person in the business. He treated me like his own son. I will never forget George Bolin. Rest In Peace.
May 24, 2020
George was a true Texan Legend. You will be missed my friend! Deepest condolences to Tish and The Bolin Family
May 23, 2020
George was my friend and business partner. I met George at Lanier Junior High school at age 12. Ironically we became business partners 13 years later. We were both founders of Laguarta Gavrel and Bolin , where we both experienced some very exciting and rewarding years. At two different times, we both left the firm but remained very good friends. I actually officed with George from 1989 to 2000 and had a comfortable restoration of our business careers. My relationship with George covered over 74 years and included all of his family and friends. I am very blessed to have had George in my life and the memories will be eternal. Rest in Peace my good friend.
May 22, 2020
It was my honor to serve with George on the 100 Club Board. Also my wife Sonny and I were proud neighbors of George and Trish. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. Sonny and Jodie Jiles.
May 22, 2020
I always knew that George was a man's MAN. After reading the wonderfully written obituary I now know that I was right. George was my best Man for my wedding in 1990. There he added so much strength and dignity to the wedding. He was my Brother- in-Law, yes Tish is my sister. Not once did she ever say a negative thing about her husband, George. I had an Army career of 25 years and George was so respectful about my service. He then and always made me feel good about everything. I followed his illness through Tish from their home. In those final days he displayed his remarkable strength about life. Yes, I will miss George. He was always very kind to me and always made me feel very special in his presence. He was the kind of man that we all want our sons to be when they mature. Good bye my ol' friend.
Your forever admiring Brother-in-Law
May 21, 2020
Tish and family: I am so sorry to read about George. I did not know him well but recall my late husband, Jim, speaking so very fondly of him many, many times. He was fortunate to have lived a long life and enjoyed love from so many friends and family members. May he Rest in Peace.
May 21, 2020
George Bolín was one of the greatest men you could ever know. He married my dear friend Tish & they had a wonderful life together.
More than once , George helped me out of a tight spot. He helped my son Ed get his real estate license. He let me hide out & work out of his office when a really violent real estate
Investor threatened me & kept on scaring me.
He was a real friend when the chips were down.
Once he flew Tish & me to their home in Port
O’Conner for a fun weekend. George was also
A pilot. He used AUTO PILOT often , while he napped. Yes , George was one of the kindest & most capable men on the planet 🙏