Remembering Peter O’Donnell, Jr. (1924–2021)

The Dallas Symphony mourns the loss of its great friend and supporter Peter O’Donnell, Jr. who passed away on October 10, 2021, at the age of 97. O’Donnell is survived by three daughters: Ann O’Donnell, Carol Kradolfer (Lyle), and Ruth Mutch. He is also survived by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Our condolences go out to their family.

“Mr. O’Donnell and the O’Donnell Foundation have been cornerstones of the DSO for decades, and their support of our work in the community, education and infrastructure have paved the way for the future,” said Kim Noltemy, Ross Perot President & CEO of the Dallas Symphony.

Peter O’Donnell and his wife Edith (1926–2020) founded the O’Donnell Foundation in 1957. Their giving focused on excellence in education, arts and health care. Mr. O’Donnell’s partnership with UT Southwestern created groundbreaking research opportunities and eventually established the Peter O’Donnell, Jr. Brain Institute in 2015. The DSO partnered with that organization on an annual Music and the Brain seminar. The O’Donnells proudly supported arts in the city and made a tremendous impact on the growth of many arts organizations in Dallas.

Since their initial involvement with the DSO in 1983, they were supporters of initiatives as wide-ranging as the building of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center to creating the broadcast infrastructure for digital concerts and audio recordings. This vital support allowed the DSO to continue reaching the community, including students and families in Dallas and around the world, during the pandemic through TV broadcasts on American Public Television, Bloomberg TV and through the DSO’s own video platform.

Most notably, the O’Donnell Foundation created a fund for the DSO’s principal musicians to make advancements to their craft, art and career in personal ways. Principal Oboe Erin Hannigan (Nancy P. & John G. Penson Chair) launched her Artist for Animals concert with funds from the Principal Musicians Fund and commissioned a new concerto by Jeremy Gill in 2016. Principal Second Violin Angela Fuller Heyde (Barbara K. & Seymour R. Thum Chair) also commissioned a new concerto by Kareem Roustom which was premiered in May 2021. Principal Cello Chris Adkins (Fannie & Stephen S. Kahn Chair) has used these funds to produce and perform a series of recitals at various universities in Texas and surrounding states, performing for more than a dozen musical communities across three states. This fund and opportunity is unique to the Dallas Symphony musicians and fulfills the mission of the O’Donnell Foundation to strengthen and promote education and the arts.

Though their support was often anonymous, the generosity of Edith and Peter O’Donnell and the O’Donnell Foundation contributed to the cultural health and educational progress of Dallas. The impact is immeasurable and will serve generations in the city. To learn more about Mr. O’Donnell’s legacy and history, please visit the Dallas Morning News.