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Mary Margaret Farabee’s Legacy

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All of us at The Texas Observer were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, supporter and benefactor Mary Margaret Farabee from cancer on Sunday morning.

Like so many organizations and nonprofits in Austin, the Observer benefited greatly from Mary Margaret’s generosity, warmth and energy. Married to former state Sen. Ray Farabee, she was a tireless believer in, and supporter of, the kind of truth-telling journalism that’s been the Observer’s trademark for nearly 60 years. Mary Margaret served on the board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes the Observer. She was instrumental in creating the MOLLY National Journalism Prize in 2006 to honor journalism in the tradition of the late great Molly Ivins. Proceeds from the award and its annual dinner benefit the Observer. Mary Margaret organized the wildly successful MOLLY dinners—along with Texas Democracy Foundation board Chair Susan Longley—that have featured keynote speeches by noted journalists such as Paul Krugman, Gail Collins and Seymour Hersh.

The Observer was just one of the causes Mary Margaret supported. She co-founded the Texas Book Festival, and, as the Austin American-Statesman noted in its obituary, devoted herself to supporting a long list of Austin organizations, including the Paramount Theater, KLRU, the Ann Richards School for Young Women, the Ransom Center, the Junior League, Friends of the Governor’s Mansion and many, many more.

Mary Margaret was also a great friend. Her visits to the Observer office always brightened our day—whether it was words of encouragement, a little gift to let us know she was thinking of us or just her smiling face coming through the door. Her warmth and generosity of spirit were infectious. We will miss her dearly.

A memorial service for Mary Margaret will be held on March 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

We will be honoring Mary Margaret more in the coming days. But for now, our feelings on this sad day were summed up best by the marquee outside the Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue that read, “Mary Margaret Farabee: One of Austin’s greatest. We love & will miss you.”

Click here to support The Texas Observer in honor of Mary Margaret.

Dave Mann has been with the Observer since 2003. Before that, he worked as a reporter in Fort Worth and Washington, D.C. He was born and raised in Philadelphia. He thinks border collies are the world’s greatest dogs, and believes in the nourishing powers of pickup basketball.