What’s in the Water by Bob Ittner

Written by Bob Ittner

What’s in the Water?

We moved to Midland in December 1952. My elementary school in Pasadena, California was teaching printing and my new classmates in the pretty Mrs. Jones’ third grade class at Sam Houston were writing. I never really developed elite handwriting. We played keep away at recess and I sustained many bloody noses and some broken teeth. 

PARENTS-my mother and father came from Oklahoma, both graduated from OU-my mother taught English there and one of her students was my father who graduated Tau Beta Pi in mechanical engineering. He could not get a job right away as he graduated during the Depression. Coming through the Depression definitely colored their thinking and influenced me also.  My mom was a sweetie and my father was always thinking about how to make more money since he had come through the Depression. Both of my parents read to me-I remember The Yearling, Tom Sawyer, and Huck Finn listening by the fire in our fireplace. My father coached my Little League team which included George W. Bush. My mom died working out at the Y when she was 93, having driven herself in her 1964 red stick shift Mustang. My father passed away in a car wreck at 95. I have two older sisters who think I got a better deal than they experienced and I probably did.

MIDLAND DAYS-Midland provided great education, some of my high school teachers were better than college. Memories include going to Lake City, Colorado to fly fish in the summer and staying overnight in Santa Fe. My father loved to go to Lake Buchanan leaving after work on Friday-we had this WWII surplus inflatable raft. After a “good” sandstorm we would look for arrowheads in the Sandhills. We lived across the street from Mike Collins who became a renowned archeologist.  We attended Trinity Episcopal where I was an acolyte until I graduated from high school. Cutting yards with John Waid in the summer provided spending money.  Lot of my memories are tied up in sports as I played baseball every summer from 9 until 17 and got serious about basketball starting midway in the 9th grade. A lot of good life lessons were learned through sports-hard work, teamwork, discipline, enduring ups and downs and finally in life the game is not over until you die or are physically incapacitated. 

SPORTS-as a 10-year-old in Little League I pitched 2/3’s of an inning and gave up 11 runs before I got the hook. Things got better as a 11-year-old as I hit a game winning HR off Marshall King in an all-star game and played on the City Championship all-star team as a 12-year-old with John Nobles, Nugent Brasher, Lee Helis, Wally Tingley among others. This became a lifetime love of sports including my progression as a basketball player which culminated in a full ride to the University of Texas being named Captain my senior year.

UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-Our family is very connected to UT with 3 of our 4 children being graduates. For me, many fond memories-BBA/MBA, freshman honor society, basketball letterman and Captain, Delta Tau Delta-social fraternity, Texas CowboysnamedOutstanding Business Student. We are season ticket holder in football and basketball. We established a business school scholarship. I (42) roomed with my teammate Paul Olivier (12) for 3 years and never had a cross word. Knowing that a relationship like this was possible was important in my life.

MILITARY-Upon getting my MBA I was accepted to Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, RI. A person can travel a day across Texas, but Newport is within a few hours or less from Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Washington, D.C. 18 weeks of intense training with an outstanding group of guys from all over the country. I still have 3 very good friends from that time 51 years ago. I had 3 years of active duty and made one WestPac Cruise (Viet Nam) on a Destroyer. The military experience gave me a better appreciation of the good fortune of being a US citizen. I wished everyone had government service of some kind. 

BUSINESS CAREER-48 years and counting. I am still cranking but the crank turns slower. About a year ago I began a 4-day workweek which I have enjoyed. While getting my MBA, I worked at Capital National in Austin in the credit department courtesy of Don Patteson. I joined Texas Commerce Bank’s management training program (Houston) out of the military where Tim Throckmorton was working. Steve Thomas had been there but left before I arrived. I was impatient for success having spent time getting an MBA and being in the military so I had several jobs before I decided that my best chance for success was staying some place and hammering it out thus: River Oaks acquired by Compass (16 years), left to start Bank of West U/sold to Bank of Oklahoma (12 years), and Texas Gulf Bank (9 years and counting). While at Compass I had the pleasure of working with a talented young man Kim McElligott. Twenty some years later I find that he is John’s son!

“THE RECORD SHOWS I TOOK THE BLOWS AND DID IT MY WAY”…hold on Bro maybe there is a better way! 

The Eighties-oh my! They started out peacefully enough but by the time I joined River Oaks Bank in 1983 clouds were on the horizon. Each year the economy got worse. Married in 1981 to the wonderful Linda who left her banking job when we had Caroline (1984), Braxton (1986), and Catherine (1988), October 1987 brought the stock market crash losing 22% in one day. My stockbroker who was using puts and calls came by to tell me that my account which was valued at $90,000 (a huge number in those days) owed $20,000. At same time my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and my boss told me “he didn’t think I was going to make it.” How did I get in this position? -no reserves, 3 young children, wife not working outside the home, and possibly going to lose my job. Long story short-took a hard look, made some changes, and vowed never to be in that position again. Compass acquired River Oaks in 1991, my boss lost his job and I survived having gone back to school (so to speak). 

ME AND THE MISSUS-u see this cat Shaft is a bad mother (Shut your mouth)

LINDA-the person that makes it all happen-sweet, positive, wakes up happy, great wife, great mother, flexible, wonderful traveler. I am a lucky guy.

Christopher Pinkston, Caroline I. Pinkston, Linda, Braxton/Connie I, Roberto, Nicki I. Cashotola, Catherine

I HAVE BEEN IN A Leadership position in many organizations outside of business-Archway Academy, the largest recovery high school in the US (11 years); Diverse Works, an alternative arts space; Upper Kirby District, a redevelopment of Kirby Drive; Stella Link Redevelopment, a redevelopment of a blighted area around two schools; Southampton Civic Association; Palmer Episcopal-vestry and Endowment; West U. Rotary; West U. Softball Association. I have ridden in the MS 150 for 16 years a two-day bicycle ride from Houston to College Station raising $305,000 and counting to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

MS 150 Finish Line 2019                                             

Leo Getting Ready for MS 150

One thought on “What’s in the Water by Bob Ittner

  1. Tom Karnowski January 27, 2020 / 4:28 am


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