"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."

                                                                    Mario Andretti

a backstage pass

It was difficult to convince Bill that this page was a good idea.

He has never met a stranger and yet he shares little of his private life with the outside world. 

Bill was born in New Orleans. His father was from a well-to-do family who lived in the Garden District. There are a ton of accomplished people in the Loëb's heritage. His grandfather and great uncles were responsible for creating the Lake Pontchatrain Causeway, presiding over Whitney Bank, building Eden Isles (an upscale boating community in Slidell.), constructing the Pere Marquette Building and many other projects. In addition they sold bonds and securities...funding countless drainage, water and sewer projects across South Louisiana. 

His mother was born in Mississippi during the great depression. His maternal grandmother was a hard working radio operator for Ma Bell. Bill's grandfather was a serious badass and among other things, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his valor in battle in World War I....under an assumed name. (that is a fascinating story!)  After the war he became an automotive mechanic.

Bill grew up on the "north shore" where his father had a heavy equipment company, a roller skating rink, rental houses as well as became the Chief of Police of Mandeville. 

They moved to a small ranch near Abita Springs where they boarded horses, trained dogs and raised cattle. They were surrounded by woods. Young Bill could often be found meandering about with a .22 rifle, usually a Winchester 63, hunting squirrel and other small game.

Feeding the livestock, working on the farm implements and keeping the fencing in order were among his chores. He learned to work hard, how to improvise and the value of entrepreneurship. These were all important lessons which he learned and learned well.  Like his father, he is an interesting combination of country boy and refined gentleman. 

After high school he went to LSUNO (now University of New Orleans) and then to LSU. His early career was in the wine business, first retail, then wholesale, then importing. At one time he had 165 employees, something that he says he never wants to repeat.

To this day, Bill loves wine and his knowledge is encyclopedic. Of course wine and food go together and he is an outstanding chef, He can tell you the tricks to his award winning gumbo (as in actually won contests), explain the best way to layer flavor or his method of smoking baby back ribs. His food is simply amazing.

When his daughter was born, he became a realtor for the flexible schedule. He exploited that freedom by becoming 3th grade room "mother." Bill went on countless field trips and eventually became a basketball coach. In middle school Bill coached his daughter to a championship while assisting his friend, the head coach, Danny Flores.  Danny explained that girls can't be coached like boys and got Bill rethinking his methods.

Because of Danny's  guidance, Bill started studying the greats. He says that his two biggest coaching influences were Anson Dorrance, possibly the greatest coach of all time and Bill Resler, coach of Seattle’s Roosevelt High School girls’ basketball team.

Resler was particularly helpful, always there to offer advice, insight or friendly ribbing. Before every season Bill would watch The Heart of the Game, the documentary about Resler and his team.

As a realtor, as you can imagine, Bill did it his way. Early on he began exploiting For Sale By Owner listings as over 85% of sellers would eventually use a realtor. When technology changed Bill was already ahead of the curve. He was specializing in off market, distressed and abandoned properties, using hard work and some clever, still secret methods to compile an impressive database.

 

The market for these properties was investors, builders and flippers. Bill loved putting the deal together and helping with the project. Along this time he met Jared Gossett, an up and coming "flipper." Bill helped him get into new home building, something that he says that Jared has forgiven him for. 

Bill was instrumental in the first dozen or more of Jared's projects, finding the land, helping with the design and then selling the house.  He and Jared made quite a splash in north central Austin with several record breaking sales.  Jared went on to become the Austin Business Journal's "Custom Home Builder of the year. They remain close friends to this day.

Bill loves sports cars. When he was still in his teens he began racing in local gymkhana and autocrosses.  He started with a Triumph "misfire" as he called it. His first truly fast car was a Chevrolet Monza that he shoehorned a highly modified V8 into and added suspension modifications. Bill became an exceptional driver, seeing his most success on tighter, highly technical courses.  

Also a competitive shooter, although these days Bill calls himself a "not-so-competitive" shooter. On the club level, he has placed and won.  He is fond of saying that that his friend Bruce Piatt never calls him for shooting advice, still, he is undeniably an expert shooter. 

Along his path, he dabbled in talk radio. He and his friend Ivory Tate did a radio talk show called One on One, featured on KWNX where they discussed the issues of the day. Bill also did a stint as general manager of a local restaurant chain. He says that food service is the easiest way to hate cooking. No creativity, just an assembly line. 

When Gun Digest approached him to write The Custom 1911 he was going to turn the project down. Busy with real estate and coaching, he didn't think that he had anything new to add. After all, Pat Sweeney had recently written the excellent book The 1911, the First 100 Years. His editor persisted and it is a good thing. Bill took the project and his look behind the scenes was truly unique and a gift to the people who love firearms, especially the 1911.

Always a hard charger, one might get a text or an email at 3am but these days Bill is amazingly easy going.   How that came to be is fascinating. He was diagnosed with colon cancer and decided that if he was going to live his life the way that he professed, he needed to take cancer as a positive thing. At the time he said "All things are blessings, not just the things that you think you want." It changed him in a way that is difficult to explain. Bill has a calm about him that I had never seen before. 

If you want to see a sparkle in Bill's eye, ask him about how he counts his blessings. He has a system that he practices daily. It involves writing down goals and things for which he is thankful to start each day. I have tried it and like The Greatest Secret, it works exactly like he says.

A more humble, caring person you will not meet. In the freeze Bill was rescuing stranded people and delivering food. When tragedy struck a high school classmate he vowed to do his best to empower women by teaching hundreds to protect themselves. He anonymously donates money. He always has a bottle of cold water for delivery people. Bill can't pass a broken down car. 

While he hates the term, Bill is a renaissance man and is also somewhat of an enigma. He sees nothing incongruent about sitting in a folding lawn chair, wearing a cowboy hat, reading about Leonardo Da Vinci. Being covered in grease, perching a crystal glass of expensive cabernet sauvignon on the air cleaner of a 50 year old car. Blazing through the woods on his four-wheeler, covered in scratches, listening to Dvorak seems normal to Bill.   He knows the bawdiest jokes, yet treats his lady like a queen. His sharp mind embraces any problem with amazing quickness and yet he can't name a current actor or singer.  For some things he cares not a whit. For others the finest is barely good enough. He is at home at a symphony, biker bar, on a sailboat, or a deer camp. 

He is is fascinating man.

Tom Harris