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Houston Super Philanthropist Saluted for Millions in Mega Gifts

Heartfelt Tributes and Musical Moments

BY // 10.03.19
photography Wilson Parish

The exquisite philanthropist Margaret Alkek Williams has once again spread her generous wings to embrace one of the city’s leading cultural arts organizations, this time the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. During an intimate dinner in the museum honoring the youthful octogenarian’s citywide benevolence, MFAH board chair Rich Kinder announced Williams’ gift of several million dollars which permanently endows the museum directorship.

As the museum noted, “Several years ago, Margaret charted a path to make transformational gifts to all of the arts organizations that she loves dearly, and the gathering marked the end of this cycle of philanthropy . . .”

Thus, it was with no small appreciation that MFAH director Gary Tinterow, now the Margaret Alkek Williams chair of the MFAH, noted his delight “as I am inducted into the most royal order.”

Joining as co-presenters in the evening of appreciation for the largesse of the diminutive oil heiress were Dean R. Gladden, Alley Theatre managing director; John Mangum, Margaret Alkek Williams executive director/CEO chair of the Houston Symphony; James Nelson, executive director of the Houston Ballet; Patrick Summers, Margaret Alkek Williams artistic director and music director of the Houston Grand Opera; and Hillary Hart, Theatre Under the Stars executive director; in tandem with Dan Knechtges, TUTS artistic director.

Each spoke of the transformational gifts that Margaret has bestowed upon their organizations and of their genuine affection for her.

In addition to the heartfelt tributes, the evening included two beautiful musical interludes, served between courses of the City Kitchen dinner. With HGO’s Summers at the piano, soprano Andriana Chuchman sang Puccini’s  lyrical “O mio babbino caro.” Later, Houston Symphony musicians performed Haydn’s “London Trio in C major.”

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Houston Ballet contributed costumed Ballet Academy students who accompanied the presentation of a surprise multi-layered cake that led to champagne toasts to Margaret.

“You all have given me so much joy,” Margaret said. “The most important work of my life is to insure that the arts continue for generations to come.”

PC Seen: Rice University president David Leebron and Y. Ping Son; HGO board veep and Alley Theatre life trustee Lynn Wyatt, Houston Ballet board president Shawn Stephens and Jim Jordan, Houston Symphony board immediate past president Steve Mach and Joella Mach, ballet and symphony board members respectively Phoebe and Bobby Tudor, ballet board member Jay Jones and Terry Wayne Jones, and a host of philanthropists Barbara and Gerald Hines, Jeanie Kilroy Wilson and Wally Wilson, Cynthia and Tony Petrello, Linda McReynolds, Elise and Russell Joseph, Ann Trammell, Princess Tatiana Galitzine Sierra and Guillermo Sierra, and Beth Robertson with Steve Pearce.

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