UPDATE: Longtime Columbia developer Jose Lindner dies at 62

Founder of Forum Development Group remembered for contribution to city
Monday, September 13, 2010 | 2:07 p.m. CDT; updated 11:10 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Longtime Columbia developer Jose Luis Lindner, 62, died Monday, Sept. 13, 2010.

Mr. Lindner was born Jan. 8, 1948, to Luis and Ondina Lindner in Cuba.

When he was 12, Jose Lindner boarded a plane in Havana bound for the United States with his parents and sister, Maria, on Aug. 26, 1960, according to a previous story in the Columbia Missourian. Luis Lindner decided to leave Cuba after Fidel Castro’s movement took power from the existing government, in which he was a lawyer. Luis Lindner came to Columbia to teach Spanish at Stephens College.

Jose Lindner graduated from Hickman High School in 1966, and then earned a degree in business administration at MU, graduating in 1970.

In 1970, Mr. Lindner married Kay Murray of Columbia. They were married for 23 years and had two sons, Scott and Jay. In 2003, he married Barbie Weaver Whitt. The couple divorced in 2010.

Mr. Lindner started and was the president of Forum Development Group, where his sons are vice presidents. The group developed the Forum Shopping Center, Broadway Shops, Broadway Bluffs and the Nifong Shopping Center. They had begun to develop property south of town at Highway 63 and Discovery Parkway, but it was recently foreclosed upon. Mr. Lindner also purchased around 1,200 acres south of Columbia near the Missouri River through Providence Farms, LLC.

Don Stamper, a business associate and longtime friend, grew up with Mr. Lindner and knew his family very well.

“I look up to him," Stamper said.  "I always admired him. He was a gifted financial adviser and businessman."

Mr. Lindner was a family-oriented man and spent a lot of his free time with his family, Stamper said.

“There’s nothing nicer than building a business from the ground up and sharing that with your family,” Lindner said after accepting the Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award from the Columbia Chamber of Commerce in 2007.

Mr. Lindner was active in bringing the U.S. Hot Air Balloon National Championships to Columbia for three years in the mid-1990s. He served as co-chairman of Missouri Balloon Corp, the not-for-profit organization that ran the nationals, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Stamper said one of Mr. Lindner's hobbies was working on his car. “He was a Corvette guy; it was a really nice car. He loved tinkering around with it.”

He was fond of MU and its athletics, and followed the basketball team very closely, Stamper said.

Mr. Lindner was president of the Chamber of Commerce in the mid-’90s. He also served on the board of the Central Missouri Development Council when it was formed in 2003 to represent developers’ interests and to foster growth.

“He always had something inside of him, always something going on, he had a lot on his plate,” Stamper said.

Ray Beck, who was city manager when Mr. Lindner embarked on many of his most ambitious development projects, said the important thing about Mr. Lindner was that he was interested in the betterment of the city and in promoting good city government.

Beck also cited Mr. Lindner's enthusiasm for MU basketball.

"I saw him at basketball games whenever I had the chance to get out there," Beck said. "He was always sitting up front."

Mr. Lindner’s sister, Maria Mendenhall, said during the 2007 chamber banquet when he received the outstanding citizen award that her brother had a commitment to serve the community that came from being an immigrant.

“This town took us in with open arms,” she said. “We’ve always tried to give back what they’ve given to us.”

Blake Danuser, owner of Bingham’s, praised Mr. Lindner in a chamber news release at the time.

“(Mr. Lindner’s) trademark is to approach every issue with interest, caring and a sense of humor,” Danuser said.

Stamper said Mr. Lindner's death is a loss to the Columbia community.

"He came from nearly nothing, and had a lot of hardships, but much more success," Stamper said. 

There have been no announcements regarding services or visitation for Mr. Lindner.

Kelsey McQuade contributed to this report.

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