The University of Texas at Dallas lost a friend and a supporter of arts scholarship when Dallas philanthropist and civic leader Nancy B. Hamon died Saturday at age 92.
Hamon’s generosity to the University dates back to 1970 and includes endowing a chair, supporting an extensive museum studies program, and contributing to the CentralTrak artist residency and gallery.
UT Dallas President David E. Daniel said: “Nancy Hamon was a great supporter of education and of UT Dallas. Many institutions benefited from her vision and desire to make Dallas a better place to live for all people. With her passing, we have lost a great philanthropist and a wonderful presence whose work truly made a difference in our community.”
Hamon established the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies in 2004 with a $1 million gift in honor of her friend and longtime UT Dallas supporter, Mrs. Margaret McDermott. Dr. Richard R. Brettell, professor of art and aesthetic studies, has held that chair since its creation.
Hamon established the Margaret M. McDermott Distinguished Chair of Art and Aesthetic Studies in 2004 with a $1 million gift. Dr. Richard R. Brettell has held that chair since its creation.
A separate $1.2 million gift in 2009 to The Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Museums at UT Dallas is supporting research that will enable a book series to be published, the Hamon Series on the History and Theory of Art Museums. Brettell, who founded the center, will edit that project.
The latter gift was instrumental in securing state matching funds to aid the University’s push to attain Tier One national research university status, and has already supported multi-year research projects for The Dallas Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Most of these projects directly involve UT Dallas graduate students and faculty.
Executive Vice President and Provost Hobson Wildenthal said: “Nancy Hamon wanted to positively impact the world, and through her support of the arts, education, medicine, research, and numerous civic and cultural organizations, she was successful in her efforts. Her gifts to UT Dallas were timely and important in helping us with our efforts to become a Tier One university.”
Her commitment to CentralTrak resulted in $500,000 for this unique artist-in-residence program.
UT Dallas was one of many beneficiaries of Hamon’s support for the arts in North Texas. Cultural buildings bearing her name and that of her husband, oilman Jake L. Hamon, include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Winspear Opera House and the arts library at Southern Methodist University.
“As a visionary philanthropist, Mrs. Hamon enhanced the future by supporting new and emerging artists as well as acknowledged masters. Her largesse will benefit us now and, more importantly, generations to come,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities.
“Nancy Hamon lived life large and enjoyed virtually every minute of her 92 years,” Brettell said. “She was an utterly delightful hostess and a very good friend. She was also a perfect donor – interested always in the project, but trusting those to whom she gave money to spend it wisely and for the purposes she intended.”
Hamon was a native of San Antonio who worked in the 1940s as a Hollywood dancer and actress. She married Jake Hamon, a successful oil wildcatter, in 1949 and settled in Dallas. She was preceded in death by her son, Jay, in 1984; and her husband in 1985.