BRIGHTON, Colo. — For Christmas this year, Oliver Smith decided to have a little fun while showing pride for the company he worked for.
The flight attendant used more than 1,000 lights to create the Southwest Airlines heart logo on the roof of his Brighton home. Smith lives close enough to the Denver International Airport that passengers on planes could see his light display while landing or taking off.
Smith was on a flight January 3 when he got the news: the founder of Southwest Airlines, Herb Kelleher, passed away at age 87.
“We were in the air when we all found out about the news,” Smith said. “I don’t think I’ve seen all flight attendants at one time just break down and start crying.”
It’s no secret Kelleher was well-liked by employees and was someone who was well regarded in the airline industry as a whole.
“An amazing guy who took everyone to heart,” Smith remembered. “Everyone was his best friend.”
Many employees began to honor Kelleher in their own ways, and that’s when Smith came up with the idea to send a message to the company’s late founder, using his already impressive rooftop light display.
“I thought to myself, why not just put it up on the roof that we love him? He’s looking down on us now so he can see that.”
Smith used more strands of Christmas lights to spell out “We love you Herb”, next to the heart logo. A simple way to say thank you, and honor the man that touched so many lives.
"The lights, you know initially it was to, it was for the planes flying over to see the heart, but now it's all about letting him look down on us and see how much he meant, how much we care and how much we will always care for him."
Kelleher was laid to rest in San Antonio, Texas Wednesday afternoon.
Hours later, at 7:37 p.m. CST, employees across the company took part in a moment of silence at Southwest Airlines gates and onboard planes.
That time was chosen as an ode to Kelleher’s love for Boeing 737 aircrafts.