I had to ask "Why"!
Why would a couple, each of whom holds two degrees from the University of Texas at Austin, decide to leave the bulk of their estate to SMU? That was a question I asked when Linda Gardner called to tell me that she and her husband, Fred Alsup, would like to do just that.
It did not take long to learn the reason. They love the Meadows Museum and had something special in mind. You see, Linda has served as a docent at the Meadows since 1995 and the enthusiasm she has for the Meadows has grown stronger over the years. She says that her work at the Meadows and the opportunity to learn more about art, especially Spanish art, has been a joy and, at times, a comfort. The Museum has become an important part of her life and Fred shares equally in her joy.
Linda told me about the fun of taking people of all ages and experience through the Meadows, showing them both the permanent collection and the many wonderful special exhibitions that come there. She gets the greatest pleasure from seeing the lively interest of those who may have never been to a museum before. Many of the school children who visit the Meadows each year are often the sources of this pleasure. The Meadows Education staff provides the docent team with the broad knowledge and specific facts they need to conduct tours to such diverse groups. Linda considers it a privilege to be a part of this team and Fred enjoys her fun vicariously.
I still remember sitting at lunch with Linda, Fred, and Mark Roglan, the Meadows Director. It was like watching a scene in a movie. They spoke of Museums in Europe and New York they had visited, of collections and artists, and of what was coming next to the Meadows. I tried to envision the scenes they spoke of, but it was obvious that they had very clear images dancing in their minds. They could see the muted colors of a piece, visualize how a particular artist made his brushstrokes, and recall a particular piece of art that had been miraculously rediscovered. Without a doubt, Fred and Linda care about art and they want to create something exciting for the Meadows Museum.
Someday, graduate students will benefit in a different way from the joy the Meadows Museum has brought to Linda and Fred. They have decided that most of their estate will be used to fund The Linda Gardner and Fred Alsup Fellowship for Research in Spanish Art. This will allow graduate students, who may come from all over the world, to study in detail a specific work of art or groups of art in the Meadows Collection or a broader subject covering Spanish art in its historical and/or cultural context. Each Fellowship will be for a two-year term and will result in a scholarly research paper to be presented by way of a public lecture.
Now I know why and it almost seems a silly question once I got to know Linda and Fred a little better. Now I just want to say "thank you!"