Jeanette Nassour left $4 million to Austin arts and other efforts

The owner of the Cadeau gift store especially loved Austin Opera.

The late Jeanette Nassour, who owned the Cadeau gift shop on the Drag with her husband, Ferris Nassour, left more than $4 million in her will to arts, faith and education groups, almost all in Austin.

She died on June 30, 2016.

The biggest beneficiary was Austin Opera, which received almost $1.7 million, according to Cindy Stone, her close friend and executor.

“Jeanette taught me never to stop learning, to seek beauty and appreciate it and share it, and to never settle for anything less than the best that could be found,” Stone said. “When she couldn’t find ‘the best’ in Austin, she was determined to bring it here and help make a home for it, whether it was their store, a local museum or a performance venue.”

Recently, Austin Opera also received a $1 million gift from Ernest and Sarah Butler to support the position of artistic director, and it picked up an Opera America Innovation Grant of $122,000.

“This profound act of generosity reflects the great joy Austin Opera has brought to the community over the past 30 years,” General Manager Annie Burridge said about the Nassour gift. “And it will enable us to expand our programming and presence over the next few seasons to engage with Austinites in entirely new ways.”

Nassour left $550,000 to the Long Center for the Performing Arts.

“Jeanette and Ferris believed in the Long Center from the very start,” said Cory Baker, director and CEO of the center. “Deeply passionate about opera, she not only wanted to secure a home for Austin Opera, but also to create something iconic for the community.”

Other Austin groups receiving gifts of approximately $278,000 each were the Blanton Museum of Art, the Contemporary Austin, Texas Performing Arts, St. Austin Catholic Church and St. Edward’s University. She left a total of $300,000 to the University of Texas for fellowships in the department of art and art history.

One non-Austin gift went to the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., where she studied and taught business.

A native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and an only child, Nassour moved with her parents to Austin in 1950 to prepare for her marriage in 1951 to Ferris Nassour. The couple opened the carefully curated Cadeau in 1952. A second location was added in the Central Park shopping center in 1994.

She closed both stores in 2006 after her husband died. They had no children.

Nassour met regularly with a group self-dubbed the Girlfriends to enjoy the beauties and pleasures of life. One of those close friends was Angie Bonnici, director of individual giving for Austin Opera.

“Jeanette’s appreciation for all things beautiful and elegant made her store, the Cadeau, one of Austin’s premier shopping experiences,” Bonnici said. “It also made the events she co-chaired for Austin Opera over the years with her dear friend Ellen King some of the best parties in town. She was the consummate hostess and a great mentor.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Drone saves 2 swimmers at Australian beach
Drone saves 2 swimmers at Australian beach

The Little Ripper turned out to be a lifesaver for two Australian swimmers caught in churning surf. Australian lifeguards were testing a new drone during a practice session at a beach in New South Wales when they received a call about two swimmers caught in 10-foot swells, according to Surf Life Saving New South Wales and The New York Times...
Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say
Man arrested after road rage shooting involving Austin police officer, officials say

Austin police have arrested a suspect who a Cottonwood Shores man said shot at his family and an off-duty Austin police officer in an apparent road rage incident in Burnet County. An off-duty Austin police officer stopped along RM 1431 during the November incident and intervened at the time, shooting and wounding the gunman, Austin police...
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections
Texan gets panel’s nod for federal judge post over Democrats’ objections

It has become a familiar scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee: A Texas nominee for a federal judicial post gets blasted by Democrats before being approved on a party-line vote. On Thursday, the committee, which includes both Texas GOP Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, considered the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a district judgeship in Amarillo...
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park
Police: Man was racing when he crashed and killed 2 boys in Cedar Park

An 18-year-old man arrested in the deaths of two young stepbrothers in a car crash last week in Cedar Park was racing when the wreck happened, police said Thursday. Hayden Michael Hammer was arrested and charged Thursday with two counts of racing on a highway causing death, a second-degree felony, Cedar Park police Cmdr. Bryan Wukasch said Thursday...
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote
Anti-CodeNext PACs spend thousands to force vote

Campaign finance reports filed in Austin this week show that groups trying to put CodeNext on the ballot are raising and spending tens of thousands of dollars. Two special political action committees that are by and large against the city’s current revamping of the entire land use code, calling the effort “CodeWreck,” have spent roughly...
More Stories