After long battling an undisclosed illness, philanthropist and arts patron Margot Winspear has died at age 83. She and husband William W. "Bill" Winspear are the namesakes of the renowned opera house that serves as a cornerstone of the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
The nonprofit organization and the Dallas Opera both recently announced that Winspear passed away on Tuesday, October 20. No funeral arrangements have been announced yet, and memorial plans are pending.
The Winspears' passion for the arts is evident in not only their multi-million-dollar contribution toward the distinctive, bright-red building, but also in establishing an endowment at University of North Texas’ College of Music and the construction of UNT’s performance hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. The generous couple also donated additional millions to UT Southwestern Medical Center for Alzheimer’s research. Bill Winspear passed away in 2007, two years before the opera house officially opened.
Steven Suellentrop, chairman of the Dallas Opera, paid his respects in a prepared statement: “It was with profound sorrow that The Dallas Opera learned of the passing of Margot Winspear, the late Bill Winspear’s wife, partner and muse; the much-loved mother of five children and grandmother to many more. Although these were the roles of which she was undoubtedly most proud, Margot was also a dedicated and passionate music lover, a longtime member of The Dallas Opera Board, and an extraordinary benefactor who, along with her husband, gave the history-making $42 million dollar gift that sparked the construction of their namesake opera house at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. It was a long-held dream come true ... Our hearts go out to Don and Ellen Winspear and to all the grieving friends and family members. We will never forget Margot’s warmth, her quiet grace, or her ever-present smile. She was, and is, irreplaceable.”
The AT&T Performing Arts Center also released a statement. “The Winspears played a leading role in the creation of AT&T Performing Arts Center and its iconic venues,” said Matrice Ellis-Kirk, a founding member and Board Chair for the AT&T Performing Arts Center. “Thanks to the generosity of Margot and Bill, our city’s opera house is ranked among the finest in the world. She was a lovely woman and our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”