Herbert D. “Herb” Kelleher, who founded Southwest Airlines and began a global low-cost airline revolution, died Jan. 3 at age 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’s tenets for the “LUV” carrier were simple, but revolutionary in the 1970s’ airline industry. Southwest was created as a short-haul, point-to-point carrier that operated a single fleet of Boeing 737s—for most efficient maintenance, training and operational costs. That fleet’s revenue-generating potential was maximized by implementing a schedule that depended on short gate turnarounds so each aircraft was in the air as much as possible. No food was served, but there was always a free soda and snack—famously beginning with the Southwest peanuts. Until 9/11 changed US security procedures and required a boarding pass for each passenger before screening, Southwest simply exchanged tickets for re-usable plastic cards at the gate. The numbered cards determined each passenger’s boarding priority and were returned to the gate agent just before boarding. Once onboard, passengers selected any available seat.

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."

American Airlines was among the first carriers outside of Southwest to post a tribute Tweet, saying “We’ll miss you, Herb. A leader and a legend, you were a true pioneer.”

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said, “Herb was the grand master Yoda of the low-fare airlines. He was the leader, the visionary and the teacher: without Herb, there would be no Ryanair, and no low-fares airlines anywhere.”

Two Texan lawmakers issued statements. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said, “Southwest Airlines is part of the fabric of North Texas, and no one embodies the spirit of the company more than Herb Kelleher … Mr. Kelleher forever changed the trajectory of the DFW Metroplex. For the first time, flying was inexpensive and accessible for all Americans, and this was because of Herb Kelleher.”

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said, “Herb Kelleher sketched out plans for a new Texas airline with his business partners on a cocktail napkin in 1971. Since then, Southwest Airlines has grown to be one of the biggest companies in the nation, employing thousands of men and women across the Lone Star State. Mr. Kelleher will always be remembered for his optimism, entrepreneurship and philanthropy that continues to inspire.”

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