Sold Cogen Technologies to Enron for $1.5 billion in cash and stock at peak of tech bubble; avoided exposure to free-falling market, Enron bankruptcy by selling stock right after deal completed. Used cash to become hometown hero; brought football back to Houston in 2002 NFL expansion. Stake in Houston Texans worth $600 million today. Team's home commands the priciest naming rights in U.S. sports: Reliant Energy paid $300 million in 2000 to call stadium Reliant Park for 30 years. Horseman sold 106-acre Saratoga Springs farm for $19 million in 2007, Kentucky's Stonerside Stables.
Robert C. McNair was born in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1, 1937, to Ruth and Ruse McNair. He grew up in Rutherford County, N.C., and graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1958; he and his wife, Janice Suber McNair, moved to Houston two years later.
After amassing his fortune in the energy sector, Mr. McNair began contributing large sums to educational, philanthropic and politically conservative causes. For instance, he donated $100 million to the Baylor College of Medicine in 2007 and pledged $1 million each to relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
He is survived by his wife, Janice; two sons, Cal and Cary; two daughters, Ruth and Melissa; 15 grandchildren; and two great-grandsons. His son Cal is believed to be the heir to the football franchise.