Ebby and the Legends of St. Paul

One of the many charitable organizations Ebby Halliday supported was the St. Paul Medical Foundation. Originally established in 1964 by the Daughters of Charity, the Foundation’s mission was provide the finest healthcare for all people. This aligned with Ebby and Maurice Acers’ lifelong credo of “doing good for others” and they both devoted their resources and time to the cause. In 1980, the Foundation awarded the “Quota Buster Award” to Ebby for her fundraising prowess. Maurice served on the Foundation’s Board until 1993 when he passed away, but Ebby continued to carry his mantle of leadership.

In 1996, Ebby became chairwoman for the St. Paul Foundation Annual “A Legend for the Holidays” Gala committee, arranging international soloist Placido Domingo to headline the event.  Since 1993, the fundraising event brought in legends such as Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennet, and the Notre Dame Cathedral’s organist, Philippe Lefebvre. The committee was expecting to far exceed previous fundraising goals with a concert by super tenor Placido Domingo. However,  he left the Foundation without a “legend” by his precipitous withdrawal from the event. However, Ebby was credited with coming to the rescue. On very short notice, singer and entertainer Linda Ronstadt was secured for the occasion. The Ronstadt show raised $100,000, well below the $500,000 the Foundation had hoped the Domingo concert would earn, had it occurred as scheduled.

The following year, Ebby co-chaired the Gala. Committee correspondence from her collection shows the longlist of potential “Legends” including Debbie Reynolds, Shirley McClain, Luther Vandross, Harry Connick, Jr. Kenny G, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Andy Williams, and Barry Manilow. The Committee, however, decided to break with tradition and invited author, television star and comedian Bill Cosby. Cosby played to a sold out show and rave reviews, benefiting St. Paul’s Project Good Start program.


In 1998, the St. Paul Foundation invited Ebby to become an Emeritus member of the Board of Trustees for her contribution to healthcare in the Dallas community. She joined previous Emeritus honorees such as Joe Haggar, Jr., Mary Kay Ash, and Stanley Marcus. 

St. Paul Medical Center became renowned for its heart and lung transplantation program throughout the 1990s and housed a high-risk maternity unit and surgical intensive care. In 2001, the annual Gala celebrated the volunteering spirit and contributions of Ebby and Maurice Acers with a concert by the legendary Four Tops benefiting the Heart and Lung Center and naming the Center’s family waiting room after the Acers. In the previous year, the St. Paul Medical Center had dedicated the Emergency and Chest Pain Center to the Acers, as well. 

Project archivist Krishna Shenoy will be working on processing the Ebby Halliday papers thanks to a generous gift of the Ebby Halliday Foundation, to preserve and make accessible the work of the First Lady of Real Estate.

Contact degolyer@smu.edu for additional information or assistance with accessing the collections. For access to these collections or to learn more about the women of the southwest, be sure to visit the DeGolyer Library and check out our books, manuscripts, pamphlets, and photographs.