September 19, 2014
Icon: Charles E. 'Chuck' Cobb Jr.

Photo: Daniel Portnoy

Icon: Charles E. 'Chuck' Cobb Jr.

Senior managing director/CEO, Cobb Partners, Coral Gables, age 76

Mike Vogel | 8/28/2012

» I am a little bit of a frustrated professor. I’m very philosophical about business strategy, about government, about policy, about religion. I tend to out-think, out-analyze almost every problem there is. Sometimes maybe too analytical.

» My altruism generally follows Republican candidates. But today I made a commitment to a guy named Rudy Moise. He is a Haitian-American, a Democrat, and a physician who’s a fellow trustee of mine. I would love for him to be the first Haitian-American in the U.S. Congress.

» I was a free spirit, so in college I was one of the best hurdlers in the world, but I wasn’t really good. But my junior year — and I don’t know whether it was meeting my wife, who was very disciplined and very straight arrow and very accomplished — you know her background: Ambassador, lawyer, almost was the first woman to summit Everest — she is really disciplined — we met her sophomore year, my junior year at Stanford — I just became, from that point on, in my life very disciplined, rigorous.

» There’s a lot of things I still want to do and mostly in the non-profit charity area. I’m very involved with President Reagan’s library and involved with George Herbert Walker Bush’s library, and we’re going to be involved in George W.’s library, and I’m on the Woodrow Wilson board, and I’m on the Eisenhower Fellowship’s board, so I’m sort of involved with five presidents.

» I would say Michael Eisner intimidated me a little bit. Michael Eisner was very smart, very opinionated. If you look at Walt Disney World today, 90% of my game plan was accepted. I was really intent on Disney having a high-tech research park and a consumer experience of industrial. It’s a little bit ingrained in me from Kaiser’s Rancho California. Nine people lived on that ranch when we bought it. Now 1 million people live there and 300,000 jobs. I thought Walt Disney World should be that.

» I formed a charter school in Miami Springs, which is primarily for Haitian-Americans. Take Stock in Children is you adopt and mentor a child through high school and then you give them a college education. I did this with a Haitian-American. He’s become a pharmacist.

» I belong to the Bohemian Club. The Bohemian Club is an organization formed 150 years ago by a group of intellectuals in San Francisco who were very interested in the arts and music and literature. Great discussions and intellectual conversations, presentations. That’s an important part of my life.

» I think generally the pro-growth, pro-business strategy of Rick Scott has been good. What I disagree strongly about is our higher education policy. The governor has vetoed the legislation for adequate funding for our two best public universities — the tuition increase — allowed the Polytech university, which is a total boondoggle, to go forward and then — a great criticism to his Board of Governors — says we’re going to form a new task force to do a strategic plan in higher education.

» The main thing I’m proud of, and really what is the theme of Kalvin’s book (“Master-Planned Communities” by Kalvin Platt), is that large-scale master-planned communities in the suburbs were environmentally wise, environmentally sensitive and were good planning and added to the quality of life in those Sun Belt places where we did it — which is contrary to some urbanologists who are saying the Westons of this world or the other suburban communities were urban sprawl and that they were not good environmentally.

» I’m accused of raising my voice, but it’s not yelling. I feel very strongly this is important and I disagree with you on this point — and so yes, I raise my voice.

» When President George Herbert Walker Bush was elected, he asked me what I wanted to do in his administration. I said I wanted to be ambassador to Canada. His head of personnel called me back and said he’s picked somebody else to be in Canada and we really think the perfect place for you would be Iceland. I said, ‘Well, I was kind of thinking of a bigger country.’ I talked to a lot of people who said, ‘Iceland’s a fantastic place; you’ll love it.’ It was a great experience. My wife was a better spouse than I was. She resigned from her legal practice to go with me full time, but when she was ambassador in Jamaica, I commuted. I was there about three days a week and I was here four days a week.

» Pan Am is my greatest failure.

» We sold the Kirkwood ski resort. We still have the real estate around it. We developed Telluride. We still have a second home there, so we ski there. And Durango, where we own both the resort and the real estate, we ski there.

» I read four newspapers every morning. I read the Journal, the New York Times, the Miami Herald and USA Today. It takes me just about a half-hour on my recumbent bike.

» My knees are bad. About three or four operations on each. The hurdles and skiing and once playing soccer against the 10-year-old son of the prime minister of Iceland.

» We’re going to give most of it away.

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