Home on the Range
Jack and Linda Linder Finally Get Their House on the Hill Deep in the Heart of Texas
As soon as Jack Linder saw Linda Reese’s socks, he knew she was the girl for him. At a dance their freshman year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, Jack spotted the black haired beauty and knew she was from his beloved Lone Star State, “because Utah girls rolled their socks down and Texas girls wore their socks up,” Jack recalls with a grin.
After dating steadily for two years, Jack took Linda to the drive-in in Utah in 1963 to see the movie “Giant,” a sweeping epic about Texas and ranch life starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. “We watched the movie for awhile and it shows them in these vast rolling plains and this great house up on a hill. And he says to me, ‘Will you marry me and if you do, this will all be yours.’ And it’s true it is!” exclaims Linda.
In February 1997, Jack and Linda Linder’s 34-year dream finally came true when they designed and built their estate, high on a hill overlooking their cattle ranch in Lampasas, Texas. Then in 2014, they sold this property and moved into an even larger house on an even higher hill overlooking their cattle and horse ranch complete with a covered Rodeo Arena the family rents to the public. “It’s everything we wanted it to be,” says Jack, of the five-bedroom, country lodge-style house, that he and his bride of 58 years now call home.
Both nature lovers, Jack and Linda always to preserve the beauty of their property and the land they love so much. “I’ve always told Jack, ‘We have a view. I am just putting a house on it,” says Linda. To keep the beautiful landscape a constant fixture in their home, the Linders installed a wall of windows in the back of the house that features a 180-degree view of the rolling Texas Hill Country. The two-story estate is nestled among 400 year-old oak trees and includes a gourmet kitchen, a large great room with a 40-foot ceiling, a media play room for their 19 grandchildren and a full tennis court next to a pool that overlooks rolling pastures.
“We wanted it to be homey; a kick off your shoes kind of place to just hang out and enjoy the country,” says Linda.
The house on the hill is a far cry from Jack’s humble beginnings. Born to a barber father and a beautician mother, Jack and his three brothers grew up in a simple, two-bedroom cottage in south Texas with no air conditioning. The boys shared a room, with Jack bunking in a twin bed with his older brother, Bob, for most of his childhood. “I guess the lack of money early in my life made me realize how important it was. You could just never do stuff,” Jack remembers. “I decided early on that whatever it took, I was going to try to get out of that ditch.”
During junior high and high school, he worked a lot to try to save money to go to college. He did odd jobs and started raising and selling cattle with the help of a family friend. The start quarterback for his high school football team, Jack got a football scholarship to Brigham Young University. While at school, he decided he wanted to make a career out of working with livestock. He earned a Masters degree from Colorado State University in animal nutrition and was recruited by Ralston-Purina Co., where he rose through the ranks of executive leadership. After 13 years with Purina, he and his family had moved 7 times. Jack became disenchanted with the company controlling his destiny and that of his family. “That’s when I looked over the fence to see what other opportunities were out there, and that’s when I stumbled into financial services,” recalls Jack.
He built a more than 40-year career in the insurance and financial services industry, with offices throughout Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, Arizona and Florida. In 2001, Jack and members of his team joined World Financial Group (WFG) and quickly made a mark. A Senior Vice Chairman in the field, WFG tapped Jack for his years of hands-on experience and corporate knowledge to come to the company’s executive headquarters in Duluth, GA to become WFG’s Executive Vice President, and allowed him to still maintain his field team. Jack became a member of the company’s Supervisory Board.
Jack and Linda are happy to be home on the ranch and away from the crush of the city and life in the fast lane. They run the ranch and arena with the help of their oldest son, Mike, and his wife of 32 years Teresa. His youngest Daughter, Jo, and her husband John have built their dream house on part of the ranch and run a thriving two-story Texas clothing boutique on the county court house square. Jack and Linda love seeing their son and daughter daily and many grandchildren are always coming and going. Their eldest daughter, Lesley – named for Elizabeth Taylor’s character in “Giant” – her husband, Dave, and their four children live about an hour away in Kyle just south of Austin and are also frequent visitors. Their youngest son, Bryan and his wife Bronwyn live near Dallas with their blended family of 7 while continuing to grow and serve people in WFG the financial services agency Jack and Linda built making it a combined 64-year Texas grown business. Both families come to visit the ranch every chance they get.
“My days are filled with my grown kids, grandchildren and trips into town,” says Linda. “It’s nice to get back and see our kids and grandkids, watch a nice sunset, walk through the cows and have friends over to talk cattle,” says Jack. The Linders also enjoy using their land to help others dream, and set their minds free in the wide-open spaces. In addition to hosting family, Jack and Linda have opened their home to their World Financial Group colleagues and their teammates. Several WFG leaders have taken Jack and Linda up on their hospitality and brought their teams out there to bond and think about the next phase of their business. “People come out here that have never seen a cow, never fished, never shot a gun,” says Linda. “They’ve heard us talk about this dream for years and now they are part of it.”
Additionally, they have hosted many church youth groups at their campsite on the creek under the oaks and have hosted countless events in their arena. Some of the events that have been held in the arena are, namely: Circuses, the Lampasas town Riata Rodeo, 4H Horse Open Shows, Mini Donkey & Mule Shows, Team Penning, 3-Pen Challenges, Ranch Rodeos, Horse Breaking Clinics, General Riding Clinics, Dog Shows, School Field Trips, Weddings, Photo Shoots and on and on.
The Linder family also had a PATH Intnat’l registered therapeutic riding center for 3 years. PATH stands for the Professional Assoc. of Therapeutic Horsemanship International. The center was a 501C3 and helped many children with different maladies and veterans and their families. The center’s vision was to create connections and help individuals and families with challenges ride, renew, and relax through the power of horses and the outdoors. Unfortunately, the center was shut down due to the pandemic but a new center has begun and is ramping up to start in the fall of 2022.
Jack says after working so hard to accomplish his dream, he and Linda don’t want to stop here, do nothing and retire – they want to continue pursuing new goals and using their good fortune to help others.
“Most of us who are driven people have to keep going. You never want to stop reaching for something,” says Jack. “So many people don’t know what they want to do with the rest of their lives. They don’t have a goal and they get frustrated. I want to work hard to make sure that never happens.”
From Business Suits to Cowboy Boots
Mike and Teresa Linder traveled the world and made it back to the family ranch.
When Mike Linder saw Teresa Hiett for the first time across her crowded call center office he said, “I think I could go out with her.” The year was 1990 and Mike was renting a room from a newlywed couple at college. The wife told Mike everyday from the day he started living there, “I have a cute girl at my office that you need to meet.” But each day Mike refused…until one day by chance he was riding shotgun when the husband swung by the office.
They met in May, got engaged in October and married in December of 1990. After being married for 5 months Mike came home from school where he was majoring in Japanese and asked, “what do you think about moving to Japan to teach English?” Teresa said, “Heck no!” However, a few days later she relented. Four months later they moved to Fukui, Japan to teach English for 15 months. This would prove to be a spring board for Mike’s career and their future family’s willingness to live in Japan.
While still in college, Mike got his insurance and securities licenses and after graduating with a degree in Japanese and a minor in business, went back to Texas to work with his father in Financial Services.
Mike and Teresa had their first son, Max who was followed 18 months later by twin boys, Sam and Zack. A couple of years into this job, Mike was asked by the CEO to be Managing Director of Japan to take the business model into Tokyo. This required him to pass 3 life insurance licenses in Japanese and take several flights round trip flights to Japan. Over his career these flights would become a total of 70 round trips to the country! Raising 3 boys under 2 was a challenge in and of itself, but add the travel and Mike’s jet-lag to the equation and it’s easy to see how this time was the furnace that tested their metal. They moved to Utah for a brief time where their 4th and final son, Brock was born. The company Mike was working for was eventually bought out which ended this chapter of his career.
Mike then spent the next 6 years honing his Japanese skills while working for Ryobi, a Japanese owned auto parts maker, in Indiana. He was a Machine Plant Manager for 3 years working with 20 Japanese Engineers and 100 American workers. Later, Mike did bi-lingual sales for the company for an additional 3 years traveling to Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. He was eventually recruited back into the Financial Services world by Aegon where he was tasked with creating a joint venture with Sony Life in Tokyo. He traveled back and forth from Iowa for 3 years after which time, Aegon offered to move him and his family to Tokyo. Teresa, who had been keeping the home fires burning with their 4 sons for 14 years heartily agreed to the adventure.
Mike and Teresa packed up their home in Iowa and moved to Tokyo with all 4 sons in the Summer of 2010. They lived in downtown Tokyo for 5 years and consider that time some of the best in their lives. They made great friends from many countries and enjoyed so much of the Japanese countryside and Japanese cuisine. All of their sons attended the American School in Japan and the 3 oldest boys graduated from high school there. The Linder family was there in March of 2011 when the 9.7 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan. It was a harrowing experience for all. A little while after the events the family had the honor of serving the people of Japan in the clean-up efforts. “It was a humbling and somber time for the country and we were humbled at their grace and kindness toward each other in the face of a terrible disaster,” said Teresa.In 2015, with 25 million people living all around them, daily life in Tokyo became somewhat overwhelming after 5 years and they were ready for a change. About that time Jack, Mike’s father, was ready to retire from Financial Services and decided to buy a 1,000-acre ranch with a covered rodeo arena North of Lampasas. “Sometimes the stars just align,” remarked Mike. He was ready to exchange his business suits for a pair of cowboy boots and faded Levi’s. Accordingly, Mike and Teresa agreed to move back to Texas with their youngest, Brock so they could help run the ranch.
The arena has been rented out to many groups and for all kinds of activities. So much fun has been had by all. Somewhere along the line, Mike decided to go by the nickname “Jolly Rancher” and with a name like that how can you not be happy. Together as a family they continue to look for happy trails living the simple ranch life complete with cattle, horses and even Llamas.