Family Values

February 1, 2007 by  
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Mother-daughter duo making waves in the Bayou City

The theme of the March 2, 2007, Houston Symphony Ball, “A Touch of Class (ical) — and All That Jazz,” reflects the sense of fun and creativeness of the ball chairs, Cathy Campbell-Hevrdejs and her mother, Lynne Tyrrell Campbell.

Cathy and Lynne call this “a celebration of the entire symphony family.” With Music Director Hans Graf and Principal Pops Conductor Michael Krajewski greeting attendees at the $750-a-plate gala at the Hilton Americas-Houston downtown, the event should prove quite a coup, as the two men are very much in demand worldwide. As the Houston Symphony League’s largest fundraising event of the year, the Symphony Ball supports the symphony’s extensive education and community-outreach programs.

Philanthropy is a way of life for Cathy and Lynne. It is a family tradition that began in Beaumont. Lynne says her grandfather “was smart enough to invest in Spindletop,” the legendary gusher that ushered in the Texas Oil Era in 1901, and his generosity set the tone for future generations. “He bought an old Baptist church that was falling down and turned it into a library for all of Beaumont,” Lynne says. “He bought land and turned it into a park for everyone.” Lynne says that her father, too, was very generous. “He gave anonymously, and my aunt gave publicly.”

Cathy’s first memory of charity work is handing out the Spindletop Award at a charity horse show in Beaumont when she was a young girl. After graduating from Houston’s Robert E. Lee High School and The University of Texas, Cathy earned an M.B.A. at the University of Houston. She put that degree to work in international banking in Houston and Boston. While with Aramco, she traveled extensively, especially in the Middle East.

Despite Cathy’s hectic schedule, her mother encouraged her to join the Junior League. Lynne was an active member, and Cathy says it was worth it. “The Junior League is a great way for young women to learn management,” Cathy says. “It’s a fabulous training ground.”

Now, Cathy is heading up her own company, Tyrrell Energy Corporation. “I’m CEO, CFO; I’m all the Os, including chief cook and bottle washer!” she says. Cathy started the company 15 years ago, before she married, and credits ex-husband and friend, Frank Hevrdejs, “for a lot of what I’ve learned business-wise, as well as about leadership and philanthropy.”

Both women are longtime Houston Symphony supporters. “The symphony is her love,” Cathy says of her mother. Even though most of Lynne’s active charity work simmered on the back burner while she cared for her husband (and Cathy’s father) during many years of illness, this proud daughter reveals that her mother always found time to help the Houston Symphony.

Now that Lynne is widowed, Cathy is reinvigorating her mom’s charity work, making her Symphony Ball co-chair. A past president of the River Oaks Garden Club, Lynne’s favorite organizations include The Colonial Dames of America; AWARE, which she helped found; and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. “I’ve never chaired something this big,” Lynne admits of the monetary goals of the ball, but both her daughter and the Symphony League are sure of her skills.

Although this is Lynne’s first “big ball,” Cathy is a veteran. She raised $1 million for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, chairing its Grand Gala Ball in 2000, and has also chaired galas for the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Zoo and University of Houston.

Named a Texas Legend this past November, Cathy was honored as a Woman of Distinction in 1998 by the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. In addition, the Houston Chronicle named her Best Dressed in 2004. It is true that Cathy is a tireless community volunteer, but above all else, she is a devoted daughter to a wonderful mother.

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