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Robert L. Brock

Born: December 27, 1924, Pawnee Rock, Kansas; died: June 7, 1998 in Dallas, Texas.

Robert L. Brock was born December 27, 1924, in Pawnee Rock, Kansas, to Eddie R. and Vivian C. Brock. Before entering the University of Kansas, he served in the Naval Air Corps as an electronics technician. In spring 1950 Brock earned his bachelor’s degree and a year later earned his law degree both from the University of Kansas. Brock was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity where he met his best friend and future business partner Edwin Linquist. Brock was also a member of the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and Phi Beta Kappa honor society.

The two fraternity brothers entered a business partnership with the goal of creating a profitable real estate venture. The first project of Brock and Linquist was a golf driving range on U.S. 24 in North Topeka. In 1948 Brock and Linquist invested $6,000 in the project that proved to be a slow and unstable pay off. In order to save their partnership, the young entrepreneurs began to lease portions of the property to bring in a steady flow of revenue. Then they built a small office building and three service stations to expand their company.

In 1956 the partners developed their own hotel company and purchased their first Holiday Inn franchise, which they built on the same site as their driving range in North Topeka. The hotel venture was such a large success that by 1976 Brock Hotel Corporation supervised more than 7,000 employees and owned or managed 75 Holiday Inns in 21 states. The Wall Street Journal said Brock was “the guru of the hotel industry.”

The partners found success with indoor pool and entertainment centers known as Holidomes. Expanding his entrepreneurial expertise, Brock created the ShowBiz Pizza Place restaurant and the Residence Inn, Park Inn, and Park Plaza hotels. In 1981 Brock’s first ShowBiz restaurant was opened in Kansas after reaching a settlement in a lawsuit with Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theatre; eight years later the two companies would merge under the name of Chuck E. Cheese Entertainment. In 1982 Brock moved his 600 Brock Hotel Corporation employees to Dallas, Texas.

Brock served as president of the Kansas Young Democrats from 1959 to 1960, chairman of the Second Congressional District Democrats from 1966 to 1973, and state party chairman from 1974 to 1975. He also served on the board of directors for Kansas Power & Light Company, Topeka Savings Foundation, Fidelity State Bank in Topeka, the Menninger Foundation, the Villages, and Topeka Flood Control Association.

In 1973 Brock was named Kansan of the Year by the Native Sons and Daughters. Four years later, he received the University of Kansas Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Citation, and the Fred Ellsworth Medallion in 1980 for his work as trustee of the University Endowment Association from 1978 to 1985. He was a member of the Hill Society of the Chancellor’s Club for his donation of $100,000 or more to K.U. and his support of the Williams Fund for Athletics, the school of business, the art museum, and alumni center.

Brock died June 7, 1998 in Dallas, Texas. He was buried in Sterling, Kansas.

Entry: Brock, Robert L.

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2013

Date Modified: January 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.