Board of Trustees
VICE CHAIR, ACTING CHAIR
JUDY BENNETT GARNER
KEON ANDERSON, DDS
NELSON E. CLAYTOR, Ph.D.
ROBERT L. JAMESON
JOSEPH D. LESLEY
GUY V. MANNING
MIKE R. MARTINEZ
MARY B. PENCIS
VERNON E. REW, JR.
In Memory of Lee Freese
Lee Brooks Freese passed away on Wednesday, March 15, at the age of 86. He was a pioneer in the field of engineering, and for 50 years served on the Board of the Fort Worth Opera.
In addition to his impact on the engineering profession and his love for opera, Lee was a devoted family man, a world traveler, a cyclist, a skier, and a longtime volunteer in Fort Worth.
Lee had a 60-year career at the firm named for his father — Freese and Nichols. As a high school student in Fort Worth, Lee did drafting at Freese and Nichols, then went to MIT, where he received a BA in civil engineering in 1958.
Lee spent several years in the field and witnessed the construction side of water supply projects from West Texas to Arkansas, an experience that gave him insights into working with contractors and delivering for clients. He helped develop young employees to be leaders in their field and in the company by sharing his own wisdom and expertise while nurturing their skills and confidence.
As a hydraulics expert, Lee's innovative designs for water pipelines and pump stations helped make clean water accessible to millions of Texans.
Though he himself didn't sing, Lee loved opera for its drama and expression of intense emotion. He attended hundreds of performances at Fort Worth Opera, and sometimes recounted other performances he had witnessed on his extensive travels. He told stories with humor and offered counsel with wisdom and humility.
In addition to serving on the Board of the Fort Worth Opera Association, Lee served on the Arts Council of Fort Worth, Saint Joseph Hospital, Plaza Medical Center and the Fort Worth Chamber Foundation. He was a past president of Steeplechase and a longtime member of Rivercrest Country Club.
Lee once shared some advice that helped him succeed: "Be a good listener and don't be arrogant," he said. "Humility is the beginning of wisdom."
All of us at Fort Worth Opera would like to express our sympathy to Lee's wife Dana, to his children Elizabeth, John and Robert, to his stepchildren, Jon and Jennifer, to John Freese, to Ann Freese, and to all of his grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Lee was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages consideration of donations to the Fort Worth Opera in Lee’s memory
It is with deep sorrow and profound regret, that we announce the passing of our close friend, longtime opera lover, and philanthropic Fort Worth leader Ed Schollmaier, on Thursday morning, September 16.
Former CEO and President of Alcon Laboratories, Inc., Mr. Schollmaier, and his late wife Rae were ardent proponents of the arts and athletics here in North Texas. In September of 1995, as Fort Worth Opera celebrated its historic fiftieth anniversary season, the couple generously established the Schollmaier Endowment Fund. This gift continues to resonate with our company over twenty-five years later. Beloved within the city and beyond, he is widely respected as the lead donor of Texas Christian University's $72 million renovation of the basketball facilities, now known as the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Schollmaier received his undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati. There, he met his future wife, Rae, before heading to Boston to attend the Harvard Business School, where he earned his MBA and met one of Alcon's founders, Bob Alexander. Fort Worth eventually became his long-term home, and he led Alcon as its CEO for 25 years.
During his lifetime, he received numerous awards and recognitions, including the 2015 Golden Deeds Award from the Exchange Club of Fort Worth, a Distinguished Service Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Texas Wesleyan University. He was also presented with the Honorary Alumnus Award, the Horizon Award, and the Royal Purple Award by TCU.
Mr. Schollmaier served as a longtime patron and trustee of Fort Worth Opera for several decades and was a tireless champion of the company's long-term growth and well-being. He understood the immense power of opera and the arts to enrich all of our lives, and that passion will continue to resonate throughout this community for decades to come.
Fort Worth Opera extends its heartfelt condolences to Mr. Schollmaier's family and his loved ones. He made a tremendous impact here in Fort Worth, and as we celebrate our 75th anniversary season this year, we also celebrate the life and legacy of this great man.