Unite Forever Co-Chair, Mary Templeton | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

She remembers her first gift to United Way. It was 96 cents.

Mary Templeton’s first job after college in 1980 was with General Electric, where her employer asked her to commit to weekly payroll deductions in support of community-building work. It was one of the first charitable organizations to which she contributed.

She never dreamed that 96-cent-per-week commitment, $50 a year, would start her on a path of impactful, philanthropic giving in partnership with her husband Rich, who also began giving to United Way right after college when he went to work for Texas Instruments.
“Rich and I never aspired to be philanthropists,” said Mary Templeton. “It just grew over time.”

Today, the couple is one of the most philanthropically generous in the country – and North Texas reaps the benefits of their passion for United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

Mary and Rich Templeton

Rich Templeton spent his operational career in TI’s Semiconductor business prior to rising through the ranks to Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer. Mary Templeton is a philanthropist and community volunteer who had a 14-year career with GE before moving to Dallas where she has served on the boards for myriad organizations such as the University of Dallas, John Paul II High School, Ursuline Academy of Dallas Foundation, the Southwest Region Boys and Girls Clubs of America, AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Dallas Arboretum. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Unite Forever endowment campaign and the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas Board of Directors.

“From the day the Templetons arrived in Metropolitan Dallas, they have been integral to significant civic work in the area, both through Texas Instruments and otherwise,” said McDermott-Templeton President and CEO of United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Jennifer Sampson.

“Their unique capacity to define a vision and inspire others to follow has been a hallmark of their legacy in North Texas.”

Jennifer Sampson
McDermott-Templeton President & CEO

The Templetons have a long history of supporting United Way Dallas with their time and resources. In 2013, Rich led the annual United Way Campaign, and in 2018-19, he and Mary co-chaired the annual Campaign – the first couple in 94 years to do so. That year, the two helped raise more than $61 million to improve education, income, and health in our community.

“Rich and Mary embody the spirit of generosity and hope that lifts up our community,” Sampson continued. “Again and again, they prove that when we work together, we can truly create lasting change.”
“As a long-time employee of TI, many know that the work of United Way Dallas is dear to my heart, and to Mary’s,” said Rich Templeton. “United Way really took root in this community in the 1940s with the help of TI’s founders and their wives, and we’ve been inextricably connected ever since.”

Both Templetons credit the examples of TI founding families – the McDermotts, Jonssons, Greens, and Haggertys – with inspiring their devotion to United Way Dallas. All of the founders and many top executives have taken on leadership roles, dating back to when J. Erik Jonsson served as the first chairman of the United Fund.

Mary shared the story of how the TI founders put together a “community fund” because of the increasingly large number of organizations asking them for money. “They didn’t know which charities would be most impactful, so they started the Community Chest,” she recalled. “But as that grew, they realized it didn’t make sense for them to be in the business of giving money away. They had their own business to run. They wanted a vetting process for their giving, so they rolled their Community Chest funds into the United Fund, which eventually became the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. Giving to United Way Dallas has been part of the TI culture ever since.

“The community impact fund concept just makes good sense,” she continued. “I would rather give to United Way because they do the vetting and give the money to the most responsible and respected organizations. I trust them to take care of my dollars and get them to the right people. They know better than me how to address the needs and shifts in community needs.”

“I would rather give to United Way because they do the vetting and give the money to the most responsible and respected organizations.”

Mary Templeton, Campaign Co-Chair

Mary Templeton went on to share that it was a special, enduring friendship with the late Margaret McDermott, widow of TI co-founder Eugene McDermott, that helped strengthen her love for philanthropy.

The two of them, referred to as the “first ladies of Texas Instruments” by local journalists, teamed up for the naming rights to the top executive position at United Way Dallas in 2016. The two $1 million gifts from both Templetons and the Eugene McDermott Foundation endowed the McDermott-Templeton President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way Metropolitan Dallas – the position currently held by Sampson. And it was one of the largest contributions to the $100 million Unite Forever Campaign at the time.

“Rich and I were so very happy to make that gift,” she said. “We are humbled to have our names connected to the McDermotts. Our community lost a truly great one with her passing in 2018. She was the last surviving spouse of Texas Instruments’ founders.

“She was one of United Way’s most faithful and generous supporters, and I am honored to have called her my friend,” she continued. “Margaret was an inspiration and one of the main reasons why our family is passionate about United Way Dallas and the work it does.”

It would be another grande dame of Dallas philanthropy and United Way Dallas devotee, Ruth Sharp Altshuler, who became a dear friend and role model for Mary.

(From L to R)
Jennifer Sampson, Margaret McDermott, Rich Templeton, Mary Templeton, & Ruth Sharp Altshuler

“What I always loved about Ruth was that it wasn’t always about writing a check, but about being present and being involved – both in her community and in her friendships,” she recalled. “I was so impressed by her story about her mom who, during the Depression, would put an X in chalk on their driveway to let hungry people know that they could join their family for dinner.

“And after my accident, it was Ruth who got me out of the house and back into the community again,” she said. “She was always very thoughtful and kind – and never afraid to get involved in the details or get her hands dirty. She always spent her time, talent, and treasure with people. Many people.”

Mrs. Altshuler, who founded the United Way Tocqueville Society in 1986, originally co-chaired the historic Unite Forever Campaign with Roger Staubach and Ed Galante, prior to her passing in 2017. And when Mary was asked to step into the role after the loss of her dear friend, she said yes – because that is what Ruth would have said.

“It is an honor to be chosen to serve in this role,” she said. “It was something Ruth believed in and to be able to complete what she started is really special. We are thrilled that we can complete the Campaign and honor her memory in this way.” To date, more than $92 million in endowment funding has been raised.

And to date, the Templeton family is one of the largest contributors to the Campaign.

In the true spirit of TI tradition and commitment to United Way Dallas, the Templetons recently teamed up with United Way Foundation Chair and retired Texas Instruments SVP Communications Terri West to rally a small group from among those affectionately known as “TI-ers” to commit the remaining funds needed for the endowment goal.

“We are so pleased and proud that both current and former TI employees rose to the occasion – making gifts to help us close the Unite Forever Campaign,” said Terri, who also serves as Chair of the Texas Instruments Foundation Board. “I simply cannot say enough about Rich and Mary’s leadership. What a true joy to have served under and learned from Rich for so many years and now also have opportunity to work alongside Mary to help build this endowment.”

“The leverage that the United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas endowment will give United Way Dallas to address community impact funding is a legacy that I hope is continued not only by this Campaign, but the next one,” explained Mary Templeton. “We hope that by having a generous, well-endowed United Way others will take notice, trust the organization, and give, too.

“I am so grateful to all who have supported the Unite Forever Campaign,” she continued. “Thank you for believing in United Way. Thank you for answering the call.”

When asked how she would most like to celebrate the Campaign’s success, she replied, “by setting a goal for the next one! We must keep going forward.
“We’re not trying to build a building or endow the deferred maintenance for a building,” she explained. “We are trying to endow the future – which is entirely unknown.”

Now that is true inspiration.

Missed the other stories in our special endowment series?

The Unite Forever Campaign  Origin & Leadership