We at Humanities Texas were deeply saddened by the loss of former board member and chair Jo Anne Christian, who passed away on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at the age of seventy-nine. Born in Wichita Falls, Jo Anne Martin grew up in Fort Worth, where she developed a love of debate and an affinity for music. After earning her bachelor's degree in history at Texas Christian University, she completed law school at The University of Texas at Austin and became a prominent attorney at a time when few women entered the profession. Her husband George Christian served as press secretary for President Lyndon Baines Johnson. During their time in Washington, DC, Jo Anne served as Assistant General Counsel at the U.S. Information Agency.
For decades, Jo Anne was a dedicated patron of the arts and humanities in Austin, where, among many contributions, she helped to create the Long Center for Performing Arts and acted as a founding member of the Austin Lyric Opera. In 2010, she was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame in recognition of her activism and philanthropic efforts. Jo Anne was a well-regarded member of the Humanities Texas board of directors from 2001–2007 and served as chair from 2005–2006. She served on the Humanities Texas board of directors building committee for the restoration of the historic Byrne-Reed House, our headquarters in downtown Austin.
We recommend the moving tributes to Jo Anne featured in recent issues of the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.