Now that Super Bowl XLV is done, it’s time to turn to more important things—the Dallas Dozen Class of 2011. Like last year’s crop, the 2011 group isn’t made up of the city’s richest, prettiest, or best known. They just have a je ne sais quoi that enables them to influence decision makers with charm, intelligence, compassion, and humor. They inspire others not merely to rise to the occasion but to surpass expectations. For instance, Pennsylvania Avenue in South Dallas was notorious for its drug houses and squalor. In the center of it all was the St. Philip’s School and Community Center. Then one of the Dozen arrived on the scene. Soon, under his guidance, St. Philip’s and the surrounding area became an evolving community oasis involving everyone from hardworking parents and Junior Leaguers to First Family Bush royalty and The Fonz (Henry Winkler).
Another educator-type member of the Dozen was bound and determined to help SMU hire Delores Etter, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research. So much so that when he learned she couldn’t sell her house in Maryland or buy an additional house in Dallas, he donated his own house to SMU so Etter could use it.
But not all of their deeds are on the Big Boom spectrum. Consider the former Crystal Charity Ball chair who’s renowned for being the ultimate good neighbor to one and all. After Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips lost one of his final games, she arrived the next morning on the Phillipses’ doorstep with one of her made-from-scratch pies to cheer him up. Still another of the Dozen had a piano given to SMU’s Perkins Chapel—in the name of his ex-wife, years after their divorce.
Perhaps that’s why the high-rolling types seek them out, instead of the other way around. One prominent gentleman, for example, asked one of the Dallas Dozen to handle a project for him despite the fact they’d never met. Even though the undertaking was not her typical world-changing assignment, she accepted the challenge. Asked by the gentleman why she’d agreed, her response was: “I wanted to meet your wife. She has such great taste and style.”