Herbert D. “Herb” Kelleher, who founded Southwest Airlines and began a global low-cost airline revolution, died Jan. 3 aged 87.

Dallas-based Southwest issued a statement describing Kelleher as “a pioneer, a maverick and an innovator.”

Born March 12, 1931, Kelleher was raised in Haddon Heights, New Jersey and received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan and his law degree from New York University. He practiced law on the East Coast before relocating to Texas with plans to start his own law firm. In 1967, Herb and client Rollin King incorporated Air Southwest, Inc., with the idea of offering low-fare, intra-Texas airline service. After a name change and many legal battles, Southwest Airlines took to the skies on June 18, 1971 and became one of the world’s most successful and consistently profitable airlines.

Kelleher was Southwest executive chairman from March 1978 to May 2008 and president and CEO from September 1981 through June 2001.

“Anyone in the world who has set foot on an airplane in the past 50 years has been touched by the life of Herb Kelleher. For he, with the first set of Southwest Warriors, made history when they set out to disrupt the airline industry by making flying both fun and affordable,” Southwest says on its tribute page.

CEO Gary Kelly issued the following statement:

"Herb was a lifelong mentor and friend, and one of the greatest joys of my life has been working alongside Herb for over 30 years. His stamp on the airline industry and all those he touched has been profound. His vision for making air travel affordable for all revolutionized the industry, and you can still see that transformation taking place today. But his legacy extends far beyond our industry and far beyond the world of entrepreneurship. He inspired people; he motivated people; he challenged people—and, he kept us laughing all the way. He was an exceptionally gifted man with an enormous heart and love for people—all people. We have been beyond blessed to have him as a part of our lives."

Kelleher is survived by his wife, Joan, three of their four children and their grandchildren