Society / The Seen

A Generous Gift to Houston Botanic Garden Creates a Water Wall Party — Emily Clay Makes a Million Dollar Difference

Opening Up a World of Plant-Filled Wonders

BY // 05.20.22
photography Hung L. Truong Photography

What better way to celebrate personal growth and happiness than writing a $1 million check to Houston Botanic Garden? This, the largest single gift made to the 132-acre garden since the initial campaign was completed in 2019, was the generous contribution of philanthropist Emily Clay. A celebration of that gift was held in her honor recently at the garden’s Water Walls, which henceforth are named the Emily Clay Water Walls.

Friends and family gathered for the midday fête that featured lunch from Silver Stone Events, the event presented as a special thank you to Clay for the contribution.

“All of us are so thankful, Emily, for the gift you made to the Garden as a celebration for the capacity for growth and positive change,” Claudia Gee Vassar , Houston Botanic Garden president and general council, said in her toast to the gathering. “Your gift has truly and positively changed us.”

She continued, quoting an ancient Greek proverb, “A society grows great when elders plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”

At the end of the toast Clay’s mother Angie Eckermann and her children Catherine and Will Clay, made the presentation of a papaya seedling in commemoration of the day.

This is the same Emily Clay that with her then-husband Robert Clay made a $10 million gift for the Eastern Glades in Memorial Park in 2018.

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Andria and Brian Francis and Mary and Stephen Schneidau (1) (Photo by Hung L. Truong Photography )
Andria & Brian Francis, Mary & Stephen Schneidau at the lunch celebrating Emily Clay’s $1 million gift to Houston Botanic Garden. (Photo by Hung L. Truong Photography )

Guitarist Marc Garvin provided lilting tunes as guests dined in front of the Water Walls which are centrally located in the garden where guests had the opportunity to explore plants in the cultivated gardens and natural ecosystems from the Gulf Coast and around the world. Several weeks prior, the garden was site of a young professionals event that also opened the garden to bevy of fans.

PC Seen: Houston Botanic Garden board chairman Jim Reeder, Lesley and Kevin Lilly, Stacey Christ, Meredith Lamberton, Sandra and Randy Stavinoha, Mary and Stephen Schneidau, Bill Schneidau, Sister Mary Jane Meyer, Sister Mary Brenda, Lucas Mason, Laura Weeks, and Laura Wheless, HBG associate director of development.

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