To hear North Texas philanthropy leaders tell it, it’s only fitting that the late philanthropist Mary Anne Sammons Cree will continue to support the local nonprofit community after her death.
Cree, daughter of Charles and Rosine Smith Sammons and Highland Park and SMU alumna, died July 21, 2021, at age 91.
Over the years, Cree supported various local causes and organizations, including the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas Opera, the Dallas Museum of Art, SMU, the Girl Scouts, and the Trinity River Conservancy to the United Way, to whom she left $10 million when she turned 90.
She’s also responsible for some of Dallas’ most beloved, significant, and most-visited landmarks, including the Observation Deck at the Girl Scouts STEM Center of Excellence and Sammons Park at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. She commissioned Santiago Calatrava’s sculpture Wave on the SMU campus to celebrate the opening of the Meadows Museum; funded Rosine Hall, the popular gathering space at the Arboretum; and helped create the Girl Scouts’ STEM Center of Excellence.
Cree inherited her generosity from her mother, Rosine Smith Sammons, which explains why so many of the landmarks and events Mary Anne founded and funded bear her name, including the butterfly house in Fair Park, the observation deck at the Girl Scouts camp, and the annual Rosine Smith Sammons Lecture in Media Ethics at SMU. Rosine, who died at 62, spent years raising money for Dallas’ Community Chest, long before it was renamed United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and organized Dallas’ first Brownie troop.
Upon her death, Cree left jewelry to Communities Foundation of Texas, which manages more than 1,200 charitable funds and has awarded more than $2 billion in grants since its founding in 1953. Now, on Sept. 29, Heritage Auctions will offer more than 125 pieces from Cree’s jewelry collection as the centerpiece of the Fall Fine Jewelry Signature® Auction. Proceeds from the sale of Cree’s jewelry will benefit The Rosine Foundation Fund of Communities Foundation of Texas, named for Cree’s mother.
“Cree was quiet in her giving and had a tremendous impact across North Texas. CFT is honored to partner with her and other like-minded, forward-thinking individuals to carry on charitable legacies supporting the causes they care for,” said Melissa Hardage, CFT’s director of donor initiatives.
Among the highlights in the auction is a 17.63-carat yellow diamond ring estimated at $300,000 to $400,000. Another centerpiece is a diamond-studded butterfly brooch set in 18k gold.
“That is only fitting since, in 2001, Mary Anne made a generous gift and worked with CFT to establish an endowment to provide ongoing support for the Butterfly House and Insectarium at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park,” said Monica Christopher, senior vice president and chief giving and community impact officer at Communities Foundation of Texas. “The proceeds from its sale will continue to support our vibrant nonprofit community long beyond Mary Anne’s lifetime.”
”As a Dallas-based auction house, it was kismet for Heritage Auctions to partner with Communities Foundation of Texas to present Mary Anne’s stunning jewelry collection in our Fall Fine Jewelry Signature® Auction,” and Michelle Castro, director of Trusts & Estates. “We are proud that our local community will continue to benefit from Mary Anne’s generous spirit.”