2020 - 2021 Oral histories

Sam Perry shares his memories of his late wife, Shirley Bird Perry, who dedicated her career to the University of Texas. Born and raised in Stockdale, Texas, Shirley Bird arrived at the University of Texas as a college freshman in 1954. She had a stellar college career and was named “Most Outstanding Woman Student” by the UT Dad’s Association. She went to work for the Texas Union Staff after graduating from U.T. with her education degree and continued working for the university for decades. In 2011, U.T. President Bill Powers awarded Shirley Bird Perry the highest honor at U.T. in recognition her importance to the university. Sam Perry lovingly describes their life together, as well as her dedication to and impact upon U.T.


Malcolm Greenstein describes his boyhood and the early days as a VISTA volunteer, through his ascent to becoming a renowned civil rights attorney. He explains how he chose Austin as his home in the early 1970s. He also recalls his inspiration to establish Murray’s Bagel Nosh, which was an Austin favorite that garnered recognition from Texas Monthly. When asked about his dedication to public service, he credits the values he was taught by his family, particularly by his mother who was saved from the Holocaust by being sent to live with relatives in the United States. Mr. Greenstein describes his most memorable cases throughout his 
50 year career as a legal advocate for victims of discrimination.


Gay Gaddis grew up in Liberty, Texas dreaming of attending the University of Texas one day. In the early 1970s her dream came true when she came to the university to pursue her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art. Studying under famous artists and photographers developed her significant artistic talent and participating in an experimental program at U.T. introduced her to the world of advertising. Ms. Gaddis describes her experiences at U.T., the early days of her career and her establishment of Austin-based T3, the largest woman-owned advertising agency in the United States. After building the highly successful business from the ground up and being at its helm for over 30 years, she sold the company in 2019. Ms. Gaddis describes her life now as a nationally recognized author, artist and public speaker.


Robert D. Spellings, Sr. reminisces about his life and career in Texas politics. Two critical events in his life were the decision to attend the University Texas after being recruited to play football by legendary coach Darrell Royal and meeting Frank Erwin who became a mentor and lifelong friend. Mr. Spellings recalls witnessing many significant events in Texas history, including the tower shootings by Charles Whitman on August 1, 1966. Having served in top roles for Ben Barnes, Bob Bullock and Mark White, he was well positioned for the final phase of his career as an administrative lawyer and lobbyist. He is a masterful storyteller with many interesting tales to tell.


Edna Ramón Butts recalls her childhood in Rio Grande City with her family and close South Texas community. She recalls her time at the University of Texas as an undergraduate and law student in the 1970s. Her lifetime of service to the State of Texas began with her work for Texas House Speaker Billy Clayton, and continued through her high level posts with two Texas Attorneys General and Senator Kirk Watson. Her current position as the Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Policy Oversight for the Austin Independent School District has given her substantial knowledge of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon Austin’s children and families. She describes how AISD has addressed the challenges of the current heath crisis in order to support the students and continue their education.


Judge Guy Herman has lived a life of adventure, from riding the rails across the western United States to attend a wedding to hitchhiking all over the world. He recalls many fascinating stories of a life well lived. Austin has been his home since graduating from law school at the University of Texas. As Travis County’s probate judge, he has worked tirelessly to improve the opportunities for physical and mental health for the Austin community. He recalls spearheading the successful effort to create the Travis County Hospital District in 2004, inspired by the county’s inability to adequately meet the needs of the mental health patients he saw in his court. He movingly describes his lifelong efforts to right the injustices he has seen.


Ann Johnston Dolce is a fifth-generation Austinite who describes growing up in Austin during World War II and living so close to the Capitol that it was her daily childhood playground. She reflects on the changes she has seen in Austin during her lifetime. She describes the lives of her ancestors in early day Austin, which she has learned through her love of genealogy and historical research. In addition to her careers, first, in computer technology and then education, Ms. Dolce has served in leadership roles in numerous community service organizations. She reflects on her training in the Junior League of Austin and how it equipped her for challenging roles to come.

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