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Local philanthropist Margaret Alkek dies


Houston Chronicle (03/25/2005)


She devoted her time, resources to arts, medicine and education

Margaret M. Alkek, an admired Houston philanthropist and arts patron, died Thursday. She was 89.

Alkek devoted her time and resources to many non-profit agencies including the Houston Ballet Foundation, Houston Grand Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston. She also was an advocate for a number of medical institutions, including the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In 1993, Margaret Alkek and her husband, Albert B. Alkek, gave $30 million for a new hospital building, which was named in their honor, at M.D. Anderson.

And as chairwoman of the the Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation, she oversaw the investment of more than $70 million to Baylor College of Medicine in 1998.

"It's thrilling to wake up and be able to do something and be productive by helping in as many ways as you possibly can," Alkek said at the announcement of the Baylor gift.

Margaret Alkek (right) with her husband Albert Alkek

Alkek was born in Houston Feb. 23, 1916, to Charles and Letyr Knight McFarland.

She graduated from San Jacinto High School in 1933 and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she met Albert Alkek, a young oilman from Victoria. He courted his future wife, by "swooping his airplane low over her dormitory, to the delight of her classmates," according to a family statement. The pair married in 1934.

Margaret Alkek returned to college in the late 1940s and graduated with honors from Victoria College in 1951. She worked with her husband and expanded their business interests to include home-building in Bandera and Houston.

Alkek was an active civic volunteer and made contributions to programs for the arts, education and medicine. She established scholarships at Texas State University at San Marcos, the University of Houston at Victoria, Northwood University, and the Texas Military Institute.

She received many honors including a 1996 Doctor of Philosophy degree from St. Mary's University. In 2000, she received the Maurice Hirsch Award for Philanthropy from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Alkek Williams, a grandson and great-grandson. Services are pending and being handled by Geo. H. Lewis & Sons.