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Isabel Brown Wilson, age 80, born on the 13th of June 1931, died on the 27th of March 2012 in Houston. She graduated from Saint Mary's Hall, San Antonio and earned a B.A. in Art History from Smith College in 1953. Art remained a lifelong passion.
Isabel was the first woman to enter the training program with Manufacturers Trust Bank. After working in the Credit Department in the Garment District, she moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as one of the personal assistants to Senate Majority Leader, Lyndon B. Johnson. She then returned to Houston to pursue a career in journalism at The Houston Post. She was always proud that she had coined the phrase ""spaghetti bowl"" to describe the complex highways in rapidly growing Houston.
Her early business experience ultimately led to many board affiliations. She served on the boards of Texas Commerce Bank, Republic Bank of Texas, First City Bank, The Methodist Health Care System, Smith College, Davidson College, Deerfield Academy, Southwestern University, The Greater Houston Community Foundation, Planned Parenthood, The Houston Annenberg Challenge, and the Board of Visitors of University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Isabel Wilson was a passionate Life Trustee and former Chair and President of The Brown Foundation Inc. of Houston. She was also past president of The Philosophical Society of Texas. As a native Houstonian, she was always actively engaged in various civic activities. She was a member of the River Oaks and the Town and Country Garden Clubs.
She served as Life Trustee and was Chairman Emeritus of the Board of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Isabel and her husband, Wally, brought important and numerous works to the permanent collection at the MFA,H, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and glass. There is scarcely a gallery in the museum without her name. The Wilson Tunnel, a light work beneath Main Street that connects the museum's two buildings, was her brain child and she and Wally commissioned it.
She was predeceased by her parents, the late George Rufus Brown and Alice Pratt Brown. She is survived by her husband, Wallace S. Wilson; as well as two sisters, Nancy B. Negley and Maconda B. O'Connor; and cousins, Louisa Stude Sarofim and M. S. Stude. She is also survived by her sons, Travis A. Mathis and wife, Bettina, of Dripping Springs, and William N. Mathis and wife, Lisa, of Houston; grandchildren: Maria Mathis, Madelline Mathis, William Mathis and Nelson Mathis; stepdaughter, Dr. Ellen Wilson and husband, Andy Hewes, of Dallas; stepson, W. Barry Wilson of Austin; step grandchildren: Brooke Wilson Hewes of Dallas and Victoria Spielhagen of San Antonio; numerous nieces and nephews; and longtime family associates: Elfriede Loesch, Benita Cruz, Vicente Molina and Doris Greenlees.
In addition, the family wishes to thank the doctors at the Texas Heart Institute, led by Dr. James Willerson.
The memorial service is to be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Friday, the 30th of March, at The Church of St. John the Divine, 2450 River Oaks Boulevard in Houston, where the Rev. Dr. Laurens A. Hall, Rector, is to officiate.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family during a reception at a venue to be announced during the service.
Serving as honorary pallbearers are James A. Baker III, William K. Bruce, John W. Elder, George S. Heyer, William R. Lummis, Edward S. McCullough, Preston Moore, Ralph O'Connor, George A. Peterkin, Risher Randall, Fayez Sarofim, David Smyth, and M. S. Stude.
Prior to Friday afternoon's service, the family and honorary pallbearers will have gathered for a private interment at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family suggests memorial contributions be directed to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, P. O. Box 6826, Houston, TX, 77265-6826; Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast, 4600 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX, 77023; or to the .


Published in Houston Chronicle from Mar. 29 to Mar. 30, 2012
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