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Reverse Engineering – The Art of Happiness

By Kevin Thompson  ::  Photography by Mark Humphries

When Lynn and Bill Haywood welcomed boy-girl twins into their family thirty years ago, they could not have predicted all the places their kids would go.

Piper Haywood Baldwin is an artist in every sense of the term. She and her husband, Sam, own a design studio in London. The two met while Piper attended Central Saint Martins, a world-renowned arts and design college at the University of the Arts London.

Art school wasn’t Piper’s first jaunt over the pond. She and her brother, Brett, performed with their high school choir in cathedrals across Eastern Europe. 

Since then, Piper has sung opera in Carnegie Hall. Her drawings, paintings and mixed media pieces line the walls of the Haywood’s Cordillera Ranch home as if placed by a professional decorator. When she visits, her culinary skills delight her hosts.

“Piper is a fabulous chef. She’s as unique as her name,” stated Lynn whose maiden name is Piper. Lynn’s mother was a concert clarinetist.

Bill Haywood clarified the source of his daughter’s creativity. “Lynn is a very talented graphic artist,” Bill explained. 

“Bill’s my PR guy,” joked Lynn.

Bill continued, “Piper’s voice certainly didn’t come from me. I’ve been told to keep it down. And I can’t cook, though I can burn meat pretty well.”

Brett Haywood was destined to become an engineer. His grandfathers were engineers. His uncles and father were engineers. While his athletic skills could have landed him on a college baseball diamond, he pursued the family field at Purdue University. Today, Brett engineers for Tesla at the company’s Gigafactory in Reno. “He’s their go-to guy for controls,” Bill boasted.

I asked, “Regarding your twins, what are you most proud of?”

“Everything!” Lynn exclaimed. “We tried to teach them to think outside the box, follow through with what you start, never give up and always smile.Today, we could drop them off anywhere in the world and they’d feel at home.” 

Bill’s pride wasn’t far behind: “They’re kind and humble. They’re independent thinkers. They come up with solutions, and then work like a dog to implement them. I have always encouraged them to make choices worthy of their efforts.”

Brett and Piper embody the strengths and uniquenesses of their parents: art and science combining to create a life of rich meaning.

Failed Retirement

During his career in the oil and gas industry, Bill Haywood didn’t fail much. As a civil engineer tasked with building and managing refineries, his priorities were simple: quality, economic viability and safety. “I never killed anybody and that wasn’t by accident,” Bill quipped.

Employees and their families deeply appreciated his culture of safety. “They would sometimes come to me in tears of gratitude. We didn’t cut corners. We focused on doing the right thing. People will do anything for you if you treat them right.”

As president of Tesoro’s west coast refineries, Bill understood the importance of relationships. “You meet the same people going up as you do on the way back down. If you invest in people and help them achieve what they never thought was possible, you’ll find success as a team.”

The Haywoods have lived on the east coast, the west coast and the gulf coast. After positions with Mobil, Ultramar, Diamond Shamrock and Valero, Tesoro brought the Haywoods to San Antonio and the Hill Country in 2005. “We’ve been fortunate to live in some spectacular places,” Lynn said. “On a bluff overlooking the Pacific in southern California, close to Tahoe and the wine country in northern California.”

Lynn even considers time in Beaumont a blessing. “The bugs were big and the humidity was high, but the people were wonderful,” Lynn viewed from the bright side.

Bill begged to differ, “There’s nothing golden about the Golden Triangle,” referring to the windfalls land owners received after a 1901 oil boom in southeast Texas.

After a failed attempt at retirement in 2013, Bill spent two years reinventing a refinery in Hawaii. While he still consults in the energy business, the former president of the Cordillera Ranch Nature Club spends most of his time birding, golfing and attending Bible studies on the Ranch.

Both Sides of the Brain

A Chicago native, Lynn grew her graphic design career at each stop on their journey. She specialized in cutting and pasting before the terms went digital. “I laid out projects the old-fashioned way by ‘spec-ing the type.’” Lynn explained. “I loved working on logos and identity campaigns. Two of my favorite clients were The Limited and Toyota.”

Bill summarized what made Lynn effective in the advertising world. “She uses both sides of the brain. She has the ability to listen to a client and to mediate with an artist. That’s not easy to do.”

Armed with versatility, Lynn receives no shortage of opportunities. While she says she tried to move to Cordillera Ranch with a “NO” on her forehead, she and Bill quickly became invested in the “gems of Boerne,” the Patrick Heath Public Library and the Cibolo Nature Center.

Lynn also took a full swing at golf, even diving into back issues of Golf Digest. Cordillera Women’s Golf Association helped Lynn with etiquette, rules and even computer skills. She learned spreadsheets as the club’s treasurer and digital photography as its de facto historian.

Her most surprising achievement was winning an El Compadre Member-Member Tournament with Kim Spencer. The pair’s names are etched in the Champions Gallery.

Having a Jack Nicklaus Signature-designed course — and its picturesque 16th green — in his backyard reminds Bill of the days his high school played the Golden Bear’s. The two grew up at cross-town rivals near Columbus, Ohio. “Jack was quite an athlete. He played football, basketball and baseball,” Bill recalled. “But we beat him my senior year!”

Upon arriving in Cordillera Ranch, Bill ran into another childhood connection of national fame, former NBA coach Bob Hill. “I was on the driving range when I heard, ‘Hey, Woodrow, what are you doing here?’” Bill remembered. “That’s what they called me back then.”

Sealing the Deal

Lynn Haywood attempted to summarize what makes life in Cordillera Ranch special. “The thoughtful development, the amenities, the nature in our backyard; it’s all wonderful. But it’s the quality of the people — our neighbors — that seals the deal.”

Bill knew he was onto something special when he turned into Cordillera’s gates in 2005. “All other potential spots faded away,” he said.

The experience was similar to one he had at Miami University (Ohio) in the early 1970s. “When I saw Lynn with a bandana on her head carrying an art portfolio board, I thought she was the prettiest gal on campus,” reflected Bill. “The artist in her attracted me. She was beautiful inside and out.”

The affinity grew to be mutual. “Bill’s smile attracted me,” Lynn remembered. “He had hair back then, but it was his smile that lit up his face. He’s a colorful engineer!”

Over four decades, the Haywoods have engineered an artful life. “In my career, I always tried to see the future and then back-integrate how you get there,” Bill recounted.

While Lynn and Bill Haywood could not have predicted all the places they would go, they are thrilled to have backed into Cordillera Ranch.