Better know a neighbor: Bob Iden 

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

After 11 years leading Lake Highlands High School, former principal Bob Iden thought he’d reinvent himself as a real estate agent in 2008. But the housing market crashed, and he missed the camaraderie of the school system. Now Iden, who grew up in the neighborhood, is a coach and college career advisor at Bishop Lynch High School.

What do you remember most about being a teen at Lake Highlands High?

The first thing that comes to mind is when we opened the stadium my senior year. That stadium was built during my junior year, and that year [the segregated] Hamilton Park High School closed. Those guys came over to Lake Highlands in the spring and went through spring training with us. It was awesome. It was like “Remember the Titans.” There were never any problems, any tensions, animosity or any ill feelings at all. It was almost a magical experience, really, because we got along so well. I still stay in contact with some of those guys. 

The other thing I remember was Lake Highlands was quasi-suburbia, but quasi-rural. On the north and east side of the school, the property was bound by barbed wire fence with cattle and horses roaming that area. We’d be out on the football practice field, and cows would come over and stick their head through the fence and start grazing. 

What attracted you to education?

Coaching was what got me back into education. I played [football] two years in college. All of a sudden, I had a separation from it. I was like a lot of college kids. I changed my major about three different times. I went from accounting to architectural engineering to law. I really thought I was going to go the law route. I started missing coaching. I investigated what I needed to do that, which was to get a teaching certificate. I changed my major again. 

What are your favorite memories during your tenure as teacher, coach or principal?

Winning the state championship in 1981 was huge. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me and all the other coaches. We talked about how that group of kids from Forest Meadow Junior High and Lake Highlands Junior High were just a tour de force. When I was principal, I think the national recognitions we got, like the Blue Ribbon School, AVID National Demonstration School. We were listed as one of the top high schools in the country by U.S. News and World Report. 

If you were in another field, what would it be?

I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I tried. I had the real estate venture. I think if I could retire today and do something else, it would be to work with my wife [at Balfour Publishing] in the yearbook, cap and gown and graduation ring business. 

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Probably my indirect connection to Shakespeare. One of my ancestors, Alexander Iden, was a noble. This is in “King Henry the XI, Part II” one of Shakespeare’s lesser plays. Alexander Iden slayed the rebel Jack Cade, and he was knighted for it. A guy named by Ben Iden Payne was a famous Shakespearean professor at the University of Texas. There’s a theater named after him. 

If you were mayor of Lake Highlands, what would you do?

I guess I would try and create more economic incentives for businesses to locate here. I would really like to see shopping centers develop to the way they used to be. I’d just try to do things to attract young families here to grow the community. When my wife and I walk the neighborhood, [we love] to see all the little kids play in the yard in the houses where we and our friends grew up.

Interview edited for clarity and brevity.