After 95 years of life, Margaret Talkington could claim a sizeable list of titles.
Whether it was as entrepreneur, fashion maven, philanthropist, teacher or, for the last week of her life, doctor, friends of the Lubbock socialite said she was passionate in nearly all she did.
And when Talkington, who owned Margaret’s clothing store for nearly 50 years before spending her latter years donating time and money to area arts and education programs, died Wednesday, community leaders said they mourned the loss of a friend as well as an asset to the Lubbock community.
Former Lubbock Mayor Alan Henry, a friend of Talkington and her late husband, J.T., since the early 1970s, said he fondly remembered Margaret’s passion for and interest in the Hub City.
“I have never met anyone who had a keener, deeper interest in public affairs than Margaret,” he said. “She was very interested (in) and loved Lubbock, and she loved people more than anyone I know.”
After her husband’s death in 2005, Talkington spent much of her time working to aid area programs benefiting children, the arts and even animals, said Louise Underwood, a friend of Talkington for more than five decades.
“She wanted to keep it private, but everyone knew of Margaret’s generosity,” Underwood said.
Henry praised the Lubbock fashion icon for her willingness to share her good fortune with others.
“She was fond of saying that the money was made in Lubbock and she’d like to see Lubbock benefit from it,” he said.
It was that generosity in her later life as well as her success as an entrepreneur that prompted Texas Tech officials earlier this month to honor the University of Texas graduate with an honorary doctorate in humanities.
“She set the standard for being an entrepreneur, not just in West Texas, but anywhere,” said Tech Chancellor Kent Hance. “She was a great supporter of Texas Tech.”
Hance said he helped push for the university to honor Talkington with the degree.
Knowing the 95-year-old’s condition was quickly deteriorating added urgency to the decision to present her with the honor, he said.
Officials awarded Talkington with the degree last week in her Lubbock home.
The fashion maven was even dressed appropriately for the occasion, wearing a cap and gown, Hance said.
“She really enjoyed it,” he said. “We started calling her Dr. Talkington and she got a chuckle out of that.”
Though the Talkingtons did not have children, their love and respect for each other was apparent in how they ran their business, Henry said.
“She would often say that she ran the store and helped people ... and Mr. Talkington had the wonderful business abilities to invest and help her, and the two worked hand in hand,” he said.
Kay Davis, who own’s Mr. Tom’s Salon with husband Tommy, said she was saddened to learn Wednesday of the loss of her longtime friend.
“She’ll be missed,” Davis said. “She was a strong woman who had a great spirit, and I loved her spunk.”
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