Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar‘s farewell-to-arms retirement gathering on Friday, June 9, in the Arboretum’s Rosine Hall had plenty of arms wrapped around the honoree. It was a combination of cheers for the decades of bringing out the best in Mother Nature, and tears for her ending a period in which the Arboretum dramatically grew in size and stature, becoming a showplace earning national accolades with the additions of the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, the renovation of the Lay Family Garden, the creation of A Tasteful Place and countless gardens and year-round activities like Autumn At The Arboretum, Food and Wine Festival, Holiday At The Park, the Dale Chihuly Exhibition, etc.
During Mary’s tenure the Arboretum had literally weathered every type of challenge, from droughts to torrential rainstorms and from record-breaking heat waves to ice storms.
When the pandemic brought the world to a halt, she and her staff managed to keep business as usual in maintaining the grounds and even provided a respite as restrictions eased.
As the crowds in Rosine Hall grew, the lineup congratulating Mary looked more like a grown-up version of youngsters waiting to visit with Santa.
Despite the evening’s traffic, guests included past Arboretum board members (Joan Walne, Carol Goglia, Steve Coke, Tucker Enthoven, Michal Powell, Peter Dauterman and Rosser Newton) and staffers Terry Lendecker, Dave Forehand and Rebecca Billings), Arboretum Foundation board member Rosser Newton, old friends Sara and David Martineau, Emilynn Wilson, Barbara Sypult, Monica Christopher, Susan and John Cuellar, Ann and Rod Gabel, Lydia Novakov, Mary Spencer, Sarah Jo Hardin, SMU sorority sister Pamela [Loring-Clark] Graham and Dallas Opera friends Diane and Hal Brierley and Opera Stage/Set and Costumer Designer Tommy Bourgeois, who designed the Arboretum’s ever-popular 12 Days of Christmas exhibit.
Of course, the evening would not have been complete without “Mary Memories” shared by Board Chair Will McDaniel, Alan Walne, Mark Wolfe, Jim Ryan, Brian Shiver, Steve Coke and Regina Montoya. As an added treat, a video was presented including former first lady Laura Bush congratulating her former sorority sister on a job well done.
* Photo credit: Steve Foxall