Sunday, August 7, 2011 , Updated 4:38 p.m., August 8, 2011
UPDATEDx2: Charles Wyly, namesake for Wyly Theatre in Dallas, died
The news came as a shock to Dallas' arts community.
DALLAS One of the founding fathers of the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas has died. Charles Joseph Wyly, Jr., died in a car accident in Aspen, Colorado on Sunday. He was 77.
According to Colorado police, Wyly was trying to make a left turn when a Ford SUV hit the driver's side of his Porsche. Wyly died from injuries at a hospital Sunday afternoon, according to a story in the Denver Post.
Wyly gave $20 million to the building with his name on it, the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. AT&T Performing Arts Center board member Deedie Rose said in a statement that Wyly was "always the voice of calm and reason" when it came to getting the Arts District financed and built.
He was also facing insider trading charges, accused of hiding transactions offshore. Charles Wyly and his brother Sam Wyly denied wrongdoing.
His legacy is an important one to the state of Dallas arts. “We would not have had the Center without him,” said Bess Enloe, vice-chair of the AT&T Center for the Performing Arts’ Board of Directors, in a statement. “He understood how the Center, over time, would absolutely transform the city of Dallas, and he never lost sight of that.”
UPDATE: Wyly was also active in The Salvation Army since he joined the advisory board 40 years ago. "We have lost one of the truly great gentlemen of the world in Charles Wyly," said Major Ward Matthews, The Salvation Army's DFW Metroplex Commander, in a statement. "He cared for and shared with the poorest among us. When we were with Charles, we were always impressed with his humility. I never felt ill at ease about speaking to this billionaire who so humbly wanted to make sure everyone who came through the doors of The Salvation Army had a place to sleep and good food to eat. He was about the future: What could The Salvation Army do to help more? How could we serve better? How could we raise more money to help the poor? And in that, he led by example."
UPDATE x2: Kevin Moriarty, artistic director for the Dallas Theater Center, said meeting Wyly helped him decide to take his current job.
"I first met Charles during my initial visits to Dallas, during the interview process, prior to making the decision to come here and become DTC's artistic director in 2007," Moriarty said in a statement. "His personal warmth, deep commitment to Dallas, and his abiding love for the theater were instrumental in my decision to accept the job when it was offered."
Frank Risch, chairman of the board of the Dallas Theater Center, offered this note: "Many of us will long remember opening night of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which formally opened our new home at the Dee and Charles Wyly Theater. Upon ending his brief remarks, in his typical modest way, he turned away from the podium to walk off stage, not aware of the standing ovation of a grateful audience of theatergoers who wished him to remain on stage so that they could thank him with their applause.
"We at Dallas Theater Center, and indeed all of us in this wonderful community that he made so much better, have lost a great friend," he said in a statement.
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