SMU mourns the loss of Linda Harris McElroy Gibbons ’58
The University is deeply saddened by the death of alumna, philanthropist and Dallas community leader Linda Harris McElroy Gibbons ’58, who passed on June 15, 2023, at the age of 86. A longtime member of the SMU community, Gibbons is remembered on campus for her dedicated service, her spirit of generosity and her lifelong dedication to her community.
“Linda Gibbons was a remarkable and devoted member of the SMU community and of the city of Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Linda dedicated her life to advancing the causes of education and culture, and her lively presence and incredible hospitality will be sorely missed on campus and throughout the communities and groups that she touched over the years.”
Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gibbons graduated from SMU in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, which she utilized throughout her illustrious philanthropic career. A member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority while on campus, her work with philanthropic and cultural organizations across the state has created a legacy of fueling advancements in healthcare, the arts, education and community development.
“Linda was a beautiful person, inside and out, and she will be missed,” said SMU Trustee Jeanne Tower Cox ’78. “What a sweet, loyal friend she was! I was fortunate to have seen up close the many ways she gave back to her alma mater, not only as a founding member of the Tower Center board, but in countless other ways across the University.”
A recipient of the 1998 Distinguished Alumni Award, Gibbons was a steadfast volunteer and contributor to SMU, chairing the Tower Center’s 2010 Medal of Freedom Award ceremony honoring First Lady and fellow SMU alumna Laura Bush ’68. Gibbons was an active participant of the SMU community and alumni network, serving on the SMU Board of Trustees, the Meadows School of the Arts Executive Board, the John Goodwin Tower Center’s Board of Directors, the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series board, the Student Affairs Trustee Standing Committee, the first woman to serve as chair of the SMU Alumni Board, the Second Century Centennial Celebration Host Committee, co-chair of the Meadows School of the Arts Campaign Steering Committee for SMU’s Second Century campaign and the Texas Campaign Steering Committee for the A Time to Lead campaign, among many others. She was a generous donor to her alma mater, committing gifts in support of the Tate Lecture Series, the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Meadows School of the Arts, and various scholarship funds to support educational access and achievement.
“Alumni like Linda Gibbons remind us of what it means to be a Mustang,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “Her years of service and generosity have left a lasting impact on the education, culture and wellbeing of both SMU and the wider community. We deeply mourn Linda’s passing, and we are forever grateful to her for her loyal devotion to SMU.”
Beyond SMU, Gibbons was renowned across the city of Dallas for her persevering work in the arts and humanities, children’s healthcare and the celebration and preservation of Texas culture. Over the course of her life, she served as a trustee of the Children’s Medical Center Foundation, a member of the World Affairs Council board of advisors, secretary and director of the Texas Cultural Trust and chairperson emeritus of TACA. Additionally, Gibbons was past president of the Junior League of Dallas and active with Charter 100, the Crystal Charity Ball, the Sweetheart Ball, Friends of WRR, KERA, College of the Americas, Pi Beta Phi fraternity, Dallas Country Club, Dallas Woman’s Club and the Dallas Garden Club.
Gibbons was preceded in death by her parents, Lloyd and Elizabeth Harris; her late husband, William Edwin Gibbons ’47; and her former husband, Benjamin Thomas McElroy. She is survived by her brother, Charles Lloyd Harris, sister-in-law, Fran Harris, and their three sons, Chip, Brian and Christopher. She is also survived by her children and their families: daughter Lisa McElroy Campbell ’82 and her husband, Tave Campbell; son Benjamin Thomas McElroy, Jr. and his wife, Laura McElroy; daughter Leslie McElroy Hoy and her husband, Douglas Hoy; son Andrew Harris McElroy ’92; and stepdaughter Molly Gibbons Norwood ’00 and her husband, David Norwood.
Gibbons’s legacy is further continued in the lives of her grandchildren, Tatjana Rottmann; Liola Last; Lauren McElroy Kimble and her husband, Ryan Kimble; Grace McElroy Broyles and her husband, Frank Broyles; Ben McElroy and his wife, Stephanie McElroy; Harrison Hoy; Virginia Hoy; Henry Hoy; Mary Frances McElroy; Drew McElroy; and Holsten McElroy, as well as her four current and two coming great-grandchildren.
SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities, and the world.