RIP Bill

Dallas steakhouse owner and philanthropist Bill Lenox has died

Dallas steakhouse owner and philanthropist Bill Lenox has died

Bill Lenox
Bill Lenox was compassionate, generous, and charming. Courtesy photo

William "Bill" W. Lenox, known for his entrepreneurial success, generous spirit, and engaging character, passed away on January 20 following a heart attack at his home in Vail, Colorado. He was 70.

A crowd of family, friends, and business associates gathered at the Lenox home in Dallas for a memorial on January 29.

Lenox's reach extended into a variety of areas including restaurants. In 1994, he became partner in Bob’s Steak & Chophouse, the chain founded by Bob Sambol. In 2009, Bill formed BSCH, Inc., a partnership with Omni Hotels & Resorts, to expand the brand to 14 locations throughout Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Tennessee.

"Bill represented the best in a partner, with his true passion for the Bob's brand," says Mike Deitemeyer, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. "His commitment to its success always took precedence over short-term gains. However, it was Bill’s passion for life, family, and friends that contributed to my own evolution, and for that I will be forever grateful."

Lenox's family took comfort in the fact that he'd enjoyed a good meal with close family in his last hours: He and his wife Marilyn, their son, and his girlfriend had dined together in Vail the night before his death.

In his professional and personal life, Lenox set the standard as a lover of fine foods and unique dining experiences. He was a maverick host with culinary sophistication, a large personality, and penchant for lively debates.

"Whether he was hosting for the holidays or pursuing business interests, Bill was passionate and followed no rules — he made his own," says his younger brother Steve Lenox. "And whether people embraced those rules or not, Bill’s warm smile, humor, and sincere charm was a deflection from any differences."

Lenox was raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, and educated at Jacksonville University, in Jacksonville, Florida, where he also taught English for a short time to underprivileged youth.

In 1971, he moved to Dallas and worked as a fabric salesman, where he met Marilyn Williams, a designer with whom he launched Circle T Western Wear, which became one of the largest makers of women’s Western wear in the country.

In 1989, he invested in Anteks, the home furnishings retailer specializing in refined rustic interiors; the company is now owned by his oldest son, Jason Lenox.

"While probably best known for his business acumen, I want people to know that he was funny, he loved his family, and his friends were very important to him," Jason says. "He cared what other people thought, and felt. Yes, he was brash. Yes, he was domineering. But one thing can't be argued: He had tremendous heart."

An open-handedness and affinity for the arts prompted Lenox to join the board of the Dallas Contemporary Museum in 2016. Board member Chris Byrne described him as "the absolute best there was, a fearless collector and patron of the arts."

"His generosity was legendary towards institutions as well as important independent projects," Byrne says. "I could always count on Bill for counsel and guidance, and I will miss his openness and unpretentious approach."

Bill is survived by his wife Marilyn Lenox; sons Jason Lenox of Dallas, Nathan Lenox of San Antonio, and Matthew Lenox of Vail; as well as two grandchildren, Grant and Piper. He had two brothers, John Lenox of Hobe Sound, Florida; and Steve Lenox of Boston, Massachusetts, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Donations can be made in his memory to the William W. Lenox Memorial Foundation. Donations by check can be made payable to the Dallas Foundation and mailed to 3963 Maple Ave., Suite 390, Dallas, TX 75219.