Bobcats give back: A slight detour put Bob Strauss on the road to success

Bob and Tina Strauss
In the 1970s, Bob and Tina Strauss took a side trip to visit friends in San Marcos. Decades later they are active Bobcats who give back.

Bobcats give back

By Anastasia Cisneros-Lunsford

A slight detour put Bob Strauss on the road to success 

 Robert "Bob" Strauss and his wife, Tina, were on their way home from Austin in the mid- 1970s. They had just put down deposits for his university admission and their married student housing when they took the detour of a lifetime to San Marcos.

That change in direction led the couple to a longtime relationship as devoted Bobcats.

The couple decided to visit some high school friends who were already attending Texas State University. Bob Strauss (B.B.A. ’78), who had just completed two years at a junior college in Corpus Christi, was planning to transfer to The University of Texas at Austin.

That side trip changed everything.

"We thought we would just look around the campus," he says. "About four or five hours later, we realized that we had just spent the whole day there. So we went home and called to put a stop on things in Austin. We then started the paperwork process here at Texas State. Keep in mind that this was before the digital age and things were done via telephone, snail mail, and stamps."

The Strausses lived in Kyle while he attended Texas State. "Bob went one way and I went the other," Tina says, remembering the duplex they lived in. In the mornings, Bob went south to Texas State where he majored in business, and Tina headed north to her job in Austin with the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy.

"We were paying our own way so it was mostly just school and work for me," Bob says. "I worked at the Wuest’s grocery store. I worked there at night and on weekends. I also mowed lawns, umpired Little League Baseball, and worked for a civil engineering firm for a while."

The Strausses had fun at Sewell Park, one of their favorite hangouts, because it didn’t cost anything. "A big night was half a chicken and a six-pack of Old Milwaukee. Life was pretty simple," he recalls.

After graduation, Bob worked in retail for a couple of years before beginning his career in the construction and industrial equipment rental industry. He spent 30 years at RSC Equipment Rental, where he started as an outside sales representative and progressed through the positions of district sales manager, district manager, divisional director, and eventually regional vice president for operations in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

"One of the crescendos of my career included being on the platform of the New York Stock Exchange when our company had its initial public stock offering," Bob says. He believes that his degree helped to open doors but ultimately, success means having to do the work yourself. "The degree is your admission ticket and what you do with it is up to you."

When the Strausses committed to making estate gifts to Texas State University, they did so with two significant wishes in mind — to spur entrepreneurship and ensure the successful training of teachers in special education. Their bequests will provide endowed scholarships to qualified students in the College of Education and the McCoy College of Business Administration.

"We have worked hard all our lives and we wanted to do something that would make a difference and mean something to us," Bob says. "Planned giving had an appeal to us. A gift in perpetuity is a good vehicle in which you can let your nest egg continue to work for you, and when you reach that point, then that money can work for others and do things that are important to you."

Teachers who educate children with special needs are very important to the Strausses. Their grandson Reid, 7, has a rare genetic disease called Creatine Transporter Deficiency, which affects muscle and brain development. Tina says her grandson is nonverbal, but he lights up a room when he walks in. "It is night and day between when someone who is trained and works with him over someone who is not," she notes. "His teacher has helped him reach his highest capacity." She says their bequest will ensure teachers receive the proper training to work with students like Reid.

Bob says he hopes the bequest to the McCoy College will stimulate growth in entrepreneurship and the private sector. "I’m old-fashioned and I believe our free market society built the greatest economy in the world."

The Strausses, who are members of the Bobcat Club, can often be found at football, basketball, and baseball games. "The Bobcat Club has become almost like a family with relationships that we have established," Tina says.

"Sports is the window to the university," Bob says. "Texas State is just as great academically as some of the bigger-name schools in the country but people don’t realize that."

Bob says he has always known what a great university Texas State is. He often shares Texas State’s accolades in academic excellence and research with other alumni he knows who may not be actively engaged with their alma mater. "I remind them, ‘You’re missing from Texas State,’ " he says.