December 29, 1937 – September 9, 2016
Known for his enthusiasm and boundless energy, pursuit of learning, compassion for others, love of science, and concern for the environment, Bill Lende left this world a better place. Surrounded by family and friends, he died peacefully on September 9 following a sudden stroke.
Descended from Norwegian settlers who came to Minnesota in 1860, Henry Willard (Bill) Lende, Jr., was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 29, 1937. He began school in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and entered the fourth grade in 1946 when his family moved to Garland, Texas, after World War II. An Eagle Scout, he became a boarding student his last two years of high school at Texas Military Institute in San Antonio, graduating as salutatorian in 1955. He then received a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, before making his home in San Antonio where he had made many life-long friends. He also received an M.S. degree in solar engineering from Trinity University in 1977.
Bill invented the unique HEATRANSFER air conditioner for the Volkswagen Beetle in 1969 and secured patents from the USA, Germany, and Mexico. Manufacturing the air conditioner in San Antonio, Bill sold the popular units worldwide. HEATRANSFER Corporation received the US Department of Commerce “E-Award” for exports from Texas Senator John Tower in 1973. Volkswagen Corporation paid him for his pioneering efforts in 1978.
After his successful business career, he established the Lende Foundation with his brother Bob and sister-in-law Elizabeth in 1978. Bill served as chairman of its board for 30 years.
In the early 1980s, Bill began purchasing land to create his private ranch in Boerne and became a dedicated steward of this treasured Kendall County property. For 27 years, he operated the property as a working farm, raising and selling Brazos blackberries, Reliance seedless table grapes, and Axis venison. In 2008 he created and endowed the non-profit CIBOLO PRESERVE and transferred ownership of the ranch to the PRESERVE to be used as a natural habitat laboratory dedicated to research and education. Serving as chairman of its board, Bill established research partnerships with the neighboring Cibolo Center for Conservation, the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, San Antonio River Authority, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Now a nationally-recognized 645-acre karst limestone research laboratory with 1.5 miles of Cibolo Creek flowing through it, this critical aquifer-recharge property has multiple research projects on-going, all related to the study of nature.
Pursuing his love of science, Bill spent 37 years collecting letters written by inventors and scientists. In 2000 he began a 15-year series of self-published booklets shared with friends each Christmas, featuring letters from his collection. The series described the rapid change in transportation and communication over the course of the 19th Century. At his death, his extensive collection of scientist and inventor manuscripts was donated to the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C.
Memberships included the San Antonio German Club, Argyle Club, Club Giraud (founder), Explorers Club (New York), Royal Institution (London), and the Royal Geographical Society (London). At the University of Texas, he was a member of the Texas Cowboys and Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He was honored as an “Imagineer in Business” by the Learning About Learning Educational Foundation (San Antonio) in 1984.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents Henry Willard Lende and Birdien Dobson Lende. He is survived by his brother Robert Lende and wife Elizabeth, by his beloved Candace Andrews, and by countless friends and colleagues who all remember his undivided interest in their life pursuits.