Bill Winspear, Donor Behind Dallas Opera's New Home, Dies Before Building Completion

Classic Arts News   Bill Winspear, Donor Behind Dallas Opera's New Home, Dies Before Building Completion
The philanthropist for whom the opera house now under construction at the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts is named has died. William W. "Bill" Winspear, suffering from cancer, died Sunday night (June 10) on Vancouver Island in his native Canada, The Dallas Morning News reports. He was 73 years old.

Winspear gave $42 million for the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, the new home of The Dallas Opera, slated to open in fall 2009. Announced in 2002, the donation was at the time the largest one-time private gift in Dallas's history.

Described as a "tough businessman" in the Morning News, Winspear retired in 2002 after heading Associated Materials, Inc., the Dallas manufacturing company he founded in 1984. He was also a charter member of the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Foundation, and he supervised the selection of the architectural firm for the opera house, Foster and Partners.

"He was one of those people who not only understood the need to create a home for The Dallas Opera in the Arts District, but also believed in supporting and nurturing the opera company," Karen Stone, general director of The Dallas Opera, told the Morning News.

The Winspear Opera House is described as a "21st-century reinterpretation of the traditional 'horseshoe' opera house" in a Dallas Center for the Performing Arts press release. The 2,000-seat auditorium will host The Dallas Opera, Texas Ballet Theater, touring Broadway productions and other performances.

Also named for Winspear is an endowment and concert hall at the University of North Texas, to which the couple donated over $3 million. They gave an additional $2 million to UT's Southwestern Medical Center to support Alzheimer's research.

Winspear is survived by his wife Margot, five children and 13 grandchildren.

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