Cynthia was humble but was a force. She was dedicated to her family and community and, throughout her life, she set a sterling example by treating all people with dignity and grace and inspiring all around her to envision a world that could be.

Her husband, George P. Mitchell’s story, is better known.

The son of Galveston, born to poor immigrants from Greece, George built a fortune in the energy sector in Houston. Given his prominence and success, it’s often assumed that his vision is at the heart of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. But he is only half the story.

Cynthia, like George, was a child of meager means who, by age 17, was working as a legal secretary, along with her twin sister, to help support their single-parent household. She loved languages, storytelling, and words, winning spelling contests as a child and later falling in love with music, architecture, theater, and art. Cynthia was as good with numbers as she was with words. She could easily have been a professional poet, writer, artist or scientist in another lifetime.

Though managing a household of 10 children was demanding, Cynthia viewed her extraordinary life with a sense of wonder and amusement. She had no interest in being like anyone else, and she wasn’t. This included her dress style, their artful home, and the moral compass that guided her.

Throughout the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, she juggled the myriad responsibilities of our busy Houston household. Nonetheless, her tireless energy and dedication to family, community, school and church activities was boundless.

Cynthia was a wellspring of inspiration for her children, grandchildren and husband. She was our mentor and moral leader. Her belief in human equality and respect for all people is a bountiful legacy that is more relevant today than ever.

George’s interests ranged far beyond energy. As his stature grew, Cynthia encouraged him to use his position and wealth to effectuate change.

Both lovers of Galveston, their first hometown as a married couple, he and Cynthia were at the forefront of efforts to revitalize its elegant but decaying downtown. Beginning in the 1970s, they invested over $150 million in the historic preservation and revitalization of its commercial core, an accomplishment made possible by the deep engagement of her flair, talent, and intellect.

During their lifetimes, they donated individually, or through the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, some $750 million to make ours a more just and sustainable world.

In everything they did, her contribution was fundamental. And it is the enduring legacy of Cynthia Woods Mitchell — our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother — that ignites our emotions and anchors our convictions.

As our foundation’s grantmaking grows (our funding in Galveston alone has expanded eight-fold in the past five years), our board has rededicated its efforts to hear her voice in everything we do.

For hers is the driving force and influence that motivates our deeply felt commitments to social justice, educational equality, the arts, environmental protection, and historic preservation. She is, and always will be, the lodestar that keeps us steady on our course.

Meredith Mitchell Dreiss, Sheridan Mitchell Lorenz, and C. Grant Mitchell are three of Cynthia and George Mitchell's ten children. Dreiss is the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s president emeritus. Lorenz is an active board member. Mitchell is the board chair.