nonprofits_5 Jeremy and Nancy Halbreich in an emergency room at Parkland Hospital. photography by Holt Haynsworth

NANCY AND JEREMY HALBREICH: “A Common DNA of Caring For Others”

To outside observers, Nancy and Jeremy Halbreich lead a charmed life. Frequently in the society pages and on power-couple lists, the husband-wife duo’s dossier includes such accomplishments as her Phi Beta Kappa key; his Harvard diploma; and their successful associations with the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Sun-Times (Jeremy) and Heritage Auction Galleries (Nancy).

Pull back the impressive gift wrap, though, and you discover two people from totally different backgrounds who share a “common DNA of caring for others.” The couple invests, financially and emotionally, in social issues (Family Gateway), healthcare (UT Southwestern Medical Center, Parkland Hospital, and John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center), education (The University of Texas, The Hockaday School, and Harvard University), and the arts (The Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Theater Center, TACA, and the AT&T Performing Arts Center).

The daughter of Ted and the late Annette Strauss, Nancy says involvement in philanthropy was a way of life in the comfortable Strauss household. Over the years her efforts evolved into a passion for and a commitment to numerous worthy causes like the Parkland Foundation. “Every great city has to have a great public hospital,” she explains, much like a chairman of the board. “Taxes only support 38 cents on the dollar of the care we give.”

Jeremy’s childhood experience in “philanthropy” was a far cry from Nancy’s. Despite his Ivy League credentials and various executive positions, Jeremy did not grow up as a child of affluence. Rather, his parents were Jewish immigrants who survived the Holocaust. After meeting in a displaced persons’ camp, they eventually moved to California to open a picture-frame shop. “They never had a lot of means, but they believed education was everything and saved for their two children,” Nancy recalls.

Another priority in the Halbreich home was helping others. “Even though they didn’t have a lot monetarily, they still had more than others,” Nancy adds. “It was not called philanthropy. It was just giving to this person because they needed something.”