July 7, 2003

Contact Michael Cinelli for information on the Mitchell gift announcement at 713/743-8155


With her characteristic gracious reserve, Cynthia Woods Mitchell seems an unlikely champion of artistic and humanitarian causes, yet she has achieved a remarkable record of personal and charitable accomplishments. As the wife of businessman and philanthropist George Mitchell, as the mother of ten children, and grandmother of 20, Mrs. Mitchell has devoted herself to her family. As a benefactor, patron, and preservationist, she has influenced many causes and projects with her strong sense of creativity and appreciation for quality. Her deep interests in architecture and design have helped to preserve many historically significant buildings in Galveston.

One of twin girls, she was born in 1922 in New York City, where her father’s career was in advertising. After an interim family move to Illinois, she came to Houston in 1939 to begin her college life at the University of Houston, studying literature, art and psychology. On Thanksgiving, 1941, traveling by train from College Station to Houston, she met Lieutenant George Mitchell, and two years later they were married. As their children arrived, Cynthia’s early volunteer activities centered on her church, school, and community; she served, for example, as Girl Scout leader and board member for several years as well as den mother for Cub Scouts.

Later, she added other social and creative concerns to the long list of projects in which she took an active part. Her unsolicited gift launched the University of Houston’s Distinguished Authors program. She provided funding to help establish the Global Children’s Foundation, which provides safe havens for young victims of war and tyranny. At Houston’s Museum of Natural Science, two exhibits have been underwritten through her interest in the protection of endangered species. A Cynthia Woods Mitchell Chair has been endowed at the University of Houston’s School of Theatre. The Houston Youth Symphony and Ballet and UH’s Texas Music Festival have honored her for her support.

The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands, of which she is an active board member, has been designated the summer home of The Houston Symphony, through a $5 million gift from the Mitchells to the Symphony’s endowment fund.

She is also a board member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a sponsor of Kid Care, a patron of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a board member of the World Wildlife Fund, and was sole underwriter for the research projects studying the Amazon and Margaret Mee.

With her husband, she has been greatly involved in the revitalization of Galveston, beginning with the restoration of the 1871 League Building in 1973. Since that time, the Mitchells have invested more then $80 million of their personal funds in restoration of the Strand Historic District. They have restored the historic beachfront Galvez Hotel and, as part of their overall plan to develop shopping and entertainment on the island, opened the 7.3 acre Pier 21 complex on the site of the Port of Galveston wharves. In 1985, the Mitchells brought back the midwinter Mardi Gras celebration, which now draws 400,00 visitors a year.

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