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Edith McAllister, A Major Force In Art Community, Dead At 100

April 29, 2018
Kemp Davis
Contributed Photo
Paula Owen, left, and Edith McAllister at the Southwest School of Art commencement in April.

San Antonio's art community lost one of its giants over the weekend. Edith McAllister, who spent much of her life helping push forward the role of art in the city, died on Sunday. She was 100.


“Edith was a force of Nature,” said Paula Owen, president of the Southwest School of Art.

McCallister was one of the founders of the Southwest School of Art, which began in 1965.

"It started very small in La Villita and today it's Texas's only independent college of art," Owen said.

While the Southwest School of Art is now known as a showcase facility, Owen said, in the 1970s, it was a shadow of what it’s now become.

"It was still a really deteriorated site that had been occupied by vagrants and needed tremendous restoration. She raised a lot of money to help to do that,” Owen said. “The school has been on a constant growth trajectory throughout its 50 years, and Edith was so instrumental in every part of it."

McAllister moved to San Antonio in 1929. After graduating with a business degree from Austin’s University of Texas in 1940, she married Walter McAllister. After raising four children, Edith turned her attentions to promoting those things which gave her joy.

“She was one of those remarkable fundraisers that really helped San Antonio grow and change over the decades. She was a tough cookie in many ways. Buy she also had a kind of tenderness and flair and joie de vivre that made you want to be around her," Owen said.

McAllister was personally responsible for a lot of fundraising for the Southwest School and other organizations, Owen said, but she wasn't just someone who wrote a check.

"She was also extremely incisive, so she could look at a balance sheet and understand what was going on financially with an organization. Or she could read a proposal and she could pick out the inconsistencies in it. She would edit people’s letters.”

Owen said there’s no replacing someone like Edith McAllister.

“We'll miss her terribly," she said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii