If Pearl “Hostess With the Mostest” Mesta and Mother Teresa had had a brainchild, she would have been Faye Briggs. The little widow with the white hair, twinkling eyes and Texas-sized smile opened more than her checkbook for area nonprofits. She opened her home to help them.
While Faye would claim that she was inspired by God, she also understood the challenges facing those in need. As a young single mother raising two youngsters — Pebble Montgomery (McGehee) and Mike Montgomery — Faye held a job not just to feed her children, but to learn how to make a better life for her family.
It paid off. She learned the oil business and in doing so met and married the love of her life, Hugh M. Briggs, in 1979. Their life together would be short-lived, though, as Hugh died in 1993 at the age of 69.
Following Hugh’s death, Faye realized that she had a calling. It was to build a house to do God’s work. For more than a dozen years, her two-story mansion with its beautifully manicured grounds featuring Brad Oldham statuary and a fountain-fed pool was the setting for countless events benefiting every type of nonprofit including children, the LGBTQ community, health, education, religion, the arts and animals. The emphasis was always on the organization and its needs, never on the hostess.
But it wasn’t all fundraising. There were holiday gatherings with the kitchen’s long island filled with platters of food for family feasting. There were quiet evenings of just sitting around the kitchen table with a couple of friends to chew the fat of the day. There were sunsets on the back porch enjoying the company of her dear friend Ralph Gorman until his death in 2017. In every case, Faye’s graciousness and laughter set the mood.
Why, it was a wonder that she even had a doorbell. The front door always seemed to be open to all.
In the past year, though, the estate’s circular driveway has not been filled with cars lining up for the valets. Catering trucks have not been parked in the back driveway. The festive fundraisers have not been underway. It was not because of oil prices being down, or Faye’s tiring of being kind-hearted. Rather, her fragile body was wearing down. At least that’s what her doctors told her. But somehow one can’t help but think that the little woman doing God’s work was preparing for her next assignment.
Last night, Faye took on her new role as she fell asleep one last time in the house that she and God built.