AUSTIN (KXAN) - Friends gathered Monday to honor the memory of Mary Margaret Farabee, who was hailed as one of Austin's "most worthy citizens."
During a memorial service at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center friends described her life as the epitome of sacrifice for the community she loved.
Mrs. Farabee died earlier this month at the age of 73 after a heroic battle with cancer.
Raised in Dallas, Mrs. Farabee graduated with honors from the University of Texas in 1961. She served as director of volunteer services at Seton Hospital, was senior vice president at Union Bank and served as vice president for development at KLRU-TV, Austin's PBS station.
For the past 22 years she had made volunteer work a full-time job.
"My email box still bulges with missives from Mary Margaret, full of suggestions reminders and encouragements," said longtime friend Nona Niland.
Mrs. Farabee was a quintessential connector, not just with the powerful with but people from all walks of life. Bill Clinton, Laura Bush, Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite were not only names in her Rolodex, but also personal friends.
Through a combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability and energy she possessed the ability to get things done.
"She was like an octopus, with tentacles reaching out into the community. She was like a friendly spider trapping us all in her web of linkages. She was the glue that brought the whole team together," Niland added.
Those teams brought a lot of good things to Austin. The list includes the renovation of the Paramount Theater, the creation of the Texas Book Festival, Philosopher's Rock at Barton Springs Pool and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden.
She served on many boards and councils such as the University of Texas Press, the University of Texas Harry Ransom Center, the People's Community Clinic, the Ann Richards School of Young Women Leaders, the Texas Child Study Center, the Dell Children's Blood and Cancer Center and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the site of a Monday memorial service for Farabee which drew more than 300 people.
"Mary Margaret Farabee's influence and effect on Austin is going to be felt for generations to come," said H.W. Brands, a UT history professor and a longtime friend. "There's hardly a part of this city that you can drive through where you won't be able to see something important and really valuable."
Added family friend Mary Yancy: "Mary Margaret is our friend and angel. She is with us always in our hearts and in the fabric of our wonderful city,. Whether the cause was a statue, a theater or a book festival, with M&M you were sure to meet interesting people and feel good about yourself in the process."
Mrs. Farabee is survived by her husband Ray a retired Austin attorney and former Democratic state senator from Wichita Falls.
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