“Grand Dame” of Dallas Philanthropy Dies

Margaret McDermott, the widow of Texas Instruments co-founder Eugene McDermott, died Thursday. She was 106.

The Dallas Museum of Art issued a statement on her death, calling McDermott the “guiding light” of the museum.

Margaret McDermott was a visionary patron of the arts, education, and healthcare whose generosity of spirit has had an immeasurable impact on the cultural and social fabric of the Dallas community for more than six decades. She was the single largest benefactor in the Museum’s history through her legendary gifts of art and endowment support. Her philanthropic leadership and unflagging commitment to the arts transformed the Dallas Museum of Art from a regional museum into an institution of global stature. Mrs. McDermott’s goal was to build the Museum’s collection for future generations, and her unparalleled support of the DMA included the donation of over 3,100 works of art spanning different cultures, disciplines, and eras.

McDermott was born in Austin, graduated from the University of Texas, and began her post-collegiate years as a journalist. She later worked as the society editor for the Dallas Morning News.

She and her husband, Eugene McDermott, who died in 1973, were philanthropic legacies in Dallas. The couple gave millions to civic, cultural, and educational recipients, including the DMA and the University of Texas at Dallas.

McDermott received the Santa Rita Award – the highest honor given for philanthropy by the UT system – in 2014. In 1977, UT-Austin honored her as one of its distinguished alumni.

UT-Dallas president Richard Benson tweeted today, “She was instrumental in many programs that led to our growth and transformed our campus into one of the nation’s most beautiful.”

Former President George W. Bush issued the following statement:

Laura and I are saddened to hear that a magnificent lady has passed in Margaret McDermott. Mrs. McDermott had a brilliant mind and a special soul. Her kindness and philanthropy will be felt throughout the ages in Dallas. Her loss will be felt by many, too, and Laura and I extend our sympathies to Mary, Grace, and Mrs. McDermott’s many friends in our community.

The town of Highland Park had also celebrated McDermott by proclaiming that Dec. 3 2015 be recognized as Margaret McDermott Day.


The Center for BrainHealth bestowed iconic Dallas philanthropist and visionary with the 2017 Legacy Award.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings then said, “[Margaret] doesn’t want any credit; she wants to just keep giving back because she feels so thankful.”

Dallas honored her by attaching her name to the Margaret McDermott Bridge.

McDermott, whose donations helped fund the new bridge along Interstate 30 over the Trinity River, etched her signature into steel that later became the bridge.

Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at Bianca.Montes@Dmagazine or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *