In their passing, some community supporters leave behind a legacy that immortalizes their time on earth. One such philanthropist, Constance P. "Connie" Birdsong, 86, died Wednesday in Virginia, but the contributions she made to Stephenville and the surrounding area will live on.
"Connie Birdsong leaves behind a legacy that will be recognized and enjoyed for generations to come," Mayor Nancy Hunter said Friday. "Her dedication and contributions to Stephenville were made for the betterment of the community as a whole and are evident across the city. It is a legacy that will not soon be forgotten."
Last year, Hunter presented Connie and her husband Tom with a proclamation officially recognizing the couple's selfless dedication.
"Mr. and Mrs. Tom Birdsong embody the definition of philanthropy through their continued generosity toward the improvement of the quality of life to countless citizens they will never know," Hunter said.
From contributions enriching the local community through arts and education to support of organizations that ensure the health and well-being of local residents, the Birdsong impact has been well established. Even after moving from Stephenville to Virginia, Connie and Tom continued to make generous contributions to organizations they helped establish and improve in Erath County.
Connie co-founded the Cross Timber Fine Arts Council in an effort to make cultural activities accessible.
"Connie had a lifelong love for the arts," CTFAC Executive Director Julie Crouch said. "The arts council would not exist without Connie. She advocated tirelessly for the council both locally and at the state level. It was very important for her to bring the arts to the rural area, allowing adults and children the cultural enrichment typically found in larger cities."
Birdsong Amphitheater in Stephenville City Park was dedicated in 2001 and continues to extend public access to an array of community events and entertainment, including cultural and musical presentations.
The Birdsongs were also advocates of education through various contributions to Tarleton State University. In 2004, they were inducted into the John Tarleton Society, which recognizes donors who have given $50,000 or more to the university. The couple also established the Birdsong Scholarship in Hydrology.
Decades of contributions to Texas Health Harris Methodist Stephenville led to the establishment of The Birdsong Women's Center years ago.
Devra LaFevre, director of women's services, said since she joined the hospital 19 years ago, the Birdsong presence has been "significant," and their contributions are ongoing. She said examples can be seen in every corner of the center - from furniture and decor making women's stays more comfortable to more recent contributions like funding to purchase jaundice screening equipment for babies and a back to sleep program to educate new parents on comfortable, safe sleeping patterns for newborns.
"The back-to-sleep program is not mandatory, but is another example of something extra we couldn't do without the Birdsongs," LeFevre said, adding that every time the couple made a trip to Stephenville, Connie would stop by the women's center for a visit.
"She was such a kind, generous, caring person who reached out to see how she could help improve the lives of those around her," LeFevre added.
Another major initiative made by Connie to improve the well-being of others was the founding of the Alcohol and Drug Intervention Council, now known as STAR Council on Substance Abuse.
Since 1981, the organization has provided services to those suffering from substance abuse by providing assistance in prevention and intervention.