Martha Roane Lacy Howe


Martha Roane Lacy Howe was born in Dallas, Texas, in 1943 but spent the majority of her childhood in Waco. She is the daughter of Walter Garner Lacy Jr. and Harriette Leachman Lacy and a descendant of two Waco business pioneers, William David Lacy (Citizen's National Bank) and Madison Alexander Cooper (The Cooper Foundation). In 1966 Mrs. Howe received a BBA in fashion design from Baylor University and that same year married her long-distance love Don Howe, a Harvard MBA working in New York. She moved to New York with Don for a time, then returned to live in the town where they first met, Dallas, where she gave birth two children Donny and Lacy before eventually moving back to Waco in 1977.

Mrs. Howe began her involvement in Waco society as Chairwoman of the Waco Junior League Charity Ball, then later served on the board of the YWCA, eventually becoming president. In addition Mrs. Howe worked on the board that restored and reinvigorated the Waco Hippodrome Theater for 12 years, joined the board of the Waco Meals on Wheels program, served as advisor to the Waco Cotton Palace chair and in 1997, joined the board of the Brazos Valley Public Broadcasting Foundation, securing the rights to the radio tower used by KWBU. Her current favorite activity is singing in the Junior League of Waco Musical Therapy Group, which she founded 27 years ago.


Cooper Family Memories

Howe Audio Clip 1
Mrs. Howe remembers her great uncle, Madison Cooper Jr., and his house on Austin Avenue. . . (05:52 ) 

Howe  I have very wonderful memories of the Cooper home. Bertha [Walton]—I’m not sure of her last name—but Bertha worked for M. A. and Mamie Cooper. By the way, my name is Martha Roane Lacy Howe. And Madison and Lucile’s mother was Martha Roane—Martha Roane Cooper. I was named for my great-grandmother. In fact, the [Cooper] Foundation is dedicated to Madison Alexander and Martha Roane Cooper. I didn’t know either one of them. They passed away before I was born. But Madison and Bertha were there. After Mrs. Cooper passed away, Madison asked Bertha if she would stay and do cleaning and laundry and cook his meals. And she was thrilled to do that. She lived in the garage—up at the top of the garage. And she was a wonderful cook and a lovely person. Bertha would call my mom. We lived on the other side of the lake, and she said, “Next time you come in town, come to the house. I’ve made some cookies.” I remember one time a big cake—I mean, you just don’t forget things like this. (laughs) We would go in that porte-cochère on the side of the house and up those steps. These were big, tall steps in the porte-cochère because of the buggies or something. I don’t know why they had such tall steps. I remember that as a little girl. And the kitchen always smelled good, and it was nice and warm.

We didn’t see Madison too much. He traveled quite a bit before he started writing. I remember him—meeting him. He was tall and athletic and thin. He didn’t have much to do with children. (laughs) When I was born, he gave me an add-a-pearl necklace with ten little pearls. Madison had a reputation that I think he “worked at” of being very tightfisted. I believe he was a far more generous, even with his family, than he wanted anybody else to know. He gave to—this is Madison Jr.—gave a lot to Waco, but he gave a lot anonymously. He gave to the Community Chest—I think this is the funny story my grandmamma told me. He gave to the Community Chest, and they thought, My goodness, Madison’s giving some money to us; maybe he’s interested. And they asked him to be on the board, and he never gave them another nickel. (laughs) So, he would give it all anonymously. And I think my Grandmother DeeDee kind of “took up” for Madison a little bit because he had quite a reputation. He was eccentric. He stuck by himself.

Oh, another funny story about Madison. It just came to mind. He walked every day down Austin Avenue to the Citizen’s Bank. Madison was never interested in banking. He had Cooper Grocery until he didn’t want to do that either. (laughs) But Madison would walk down Austin Avenue every day, and he wore kind of shabby clothes; he worked at that. (laughs) He knew how to look nice. My grandmother would tell me all this. And he would walk down to the bank and go into Mildred Rast, my grandfather and my father’s secretary―we called her PudShe was quite famous and had been at the bank a lot longer than my dad had been at the bank. But Madison would go down there and go through her trash and find her used carbon paper and take it home. And he wrote Sironiaup in the top parts of the Cooper home on used carbon paper. On used carbon paper! I think he could have probably bought a small package (laughs) at the dime store, don’t you think? But he used Pud’s—Mildred Rast’s―used carbon paper that she had (laughs) already thrown away. But he kind of worked at that aura that he was tight. He worked at it; he liked it.

He was an athlete. He walked and played tennis and ran miles and did all those things. Madison planned a fancy trip for my dad and Lawrence and Roane and Lucille to go to Europe just where he wanted them to go. But it never did happen because I don’t think DeeDee and Papa, my grandparents, really wanted them to go. It was right before the war; it was about ’39, ’40, and they just didn’t want them on a boat―you know, just too much going on during that time. Uncle Madison was generous to his family and to Bertha. He gave everything he had to the Cooper Foundation. He gave a nice amount that he left to Bertha. Bertha stayed at the Cooper home a short time after Madison passed away.


Family Philanthropy

Howe Audio Clip 2
Mrs. Howe relates the story of how her parents and grandparents supported Baylor University through land grants and later endowed scholarships. . . (02:12 ) 

Howe  All of that went under water. The saddest part of it is the most impressive group of oak trees I have ever seen to this day, huge ones that DeeDee used to say that people from Texas A&M said had been there six and seven hundred years. I mean, old, huge. The trunks of the trees were bigger than cars. They were huge and they spread out. That’s the reason they called it Oak Point. Oak Point had, oh, I’m thinking―well, they were very big, but at least five or six of these huge, huge trees. We had one at our house. And so, when the lake came up, all the trees went too; they’re underground.

My family gave Oak Point to Baylor. And they moved it, believe it or not, the two-story house, to Baylor Camp out on the old Camp Road. Even though my dad didn’t go to Baylor and none of my aunts and uncles went there, the Lacy family has always had a fine relationship with Baylor University and helped a lot, through the bank especially. My mother and father endowed the Harriette L. and Walter G. Lacy Jr. Chair of Banking at the Hankamer School of Business. 

Myers  It’s such an interesting thing to think about: Oak Point.

Howe  Yes. The Baylor connection goes back for many generations. It goes back to my great-grandfather, W. D. Lacy, in 1890-something, when he was president of the bank. W. D. gave five thousand dollars, which was a whole lot of money (laughs), to Baylor University to help to move Baylor from Independence, Texas, to Waco. It’s all in this book. [The Citizens National Bank of Waco, 1884-1982, by Harry Provence].


Personal Philanthropy

Howe Audio Clip 3
Mrs. Howe speaks of how she became involved in the foundation of KWBU, and her vital role in securing a radio tower for the university. . . (02:49 ) 

Howe  Brazos Valley [Public] Broadcasting Foundation. It wasn’t named that when I was first on it. Larry Brumley was head of public relations at Baylor and asked me to be on that board. I was interested. I didn’t know much about it, but it was something I was interested in. Larry Brumley took me to lunch at the old Brazos Club on top of the Golden Triangle. I only did one good thing for KWBU. Larry Brumley was talking about that Baylor needed a tower. Our daughter, Lacy, had gone to Vanderbilt with Kristen Hicks. Her father is Steve Hicks. Tom Hicks, his brother, owns a lot of things in Dallas. But Steve Hicks has always been in the radio business. And we knew them personally and had been with them many times. And so, I happened to mention to Larry Brumley, “You know, I know Steve Hicks. I vaguely remember that he has a tower in Moody.” And I thought (laughs) Larry Brumley was going to drop his fork—well, he did. And he said, “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!” So, I went home that very day—this was in 1997—and wrote a little handwritten note on my stationary to Steve Hicks and said, “I’ve just been put on—asked to be”—I hadn’t even been put on the board—“asked to be on the board of”—it wasn’t called KWBU then. It was K—


Howe  Yeah, it was before we completely switched over. “And do I remember that you have a tower—a radio, TV, you know, tower”—is all they needed was the tower they would put the equipment on—“in Moody?” And I called him then. And he said, “Yes, as a matter of fact.” So, he gave it to Baylor for twenty-five dollars a year. It’s a million dollar tower. So, Larry Brumley and Charles Madden (laughs), Dr. Madden, they were impressed. Dr. Sloan was impressed! And it wasn’t how smart I was at all, it’s just that I happened to know the right man and wrote the little note. And so, that got them started. And it really did save them a million dollars. Not only that, but it’s hard to get towers into places that are high enough and just the right place. It was perfect. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was on KWBU board about eleven years, I think.

The Musical Therapy Troupe of the Junior League of Waco

Howe Audio Clip 4
Mrs. Howe speaks of the history and joy of her current passion: singing in the Musical Therapy Troupe of the Junior League of Waco. . . (03:07 ) 

Howe  I sing in a musical therapy group in the Junior League of Waco. I am by far the oldest member of it. I’ve been doing this for twenty-seven years. Every Tuesday morning we sing in rest homes. I got started doing this and knew I really liked it when I was in the Dallas Junior League. When I moved to Waco, and after I was charity ball chairman, I questioned, “Y’all don’t have a musical therapy group?” Diane Henderson said, “Well, if you start it, we’ll have one.” So, I got all my old music from Dallas, and I knew what made it work. We changed it up a little bit for Waco, because we didn’t have near as many people. Now, we are good! (laughs) J. L. Musical Therapy evolved over all these years. Lydia Bratcher, who is the Seventh & James organist, our wonderful Lydia, plays the piano. We’ve had many pianists over the years. Ann Harder sings with us. Oh, I shouldn’t have started naming names because they are sixteen of us. We sing four-part music. We have been together a long time. We go into a rest home with sixty or seventy people that they roll in in wheelchairs with eyes glazed over and they’re sad. We can sing for forty minutes, and when we leave, their eyes are twinkling; they can’t wait to shake our hands. Part of the therapy is personally talking to everyone there.

Howe  We go to Talitha Koum, we go to Friends for Life, we sing—well, every single rest home. (laughs) It is a good way to do for others. I’m not real good one-on-one with somebody that’s sick or old, but I’m not too bad with a group and to sing. I have a pretty nice voice. It blends well. All you really need is just a smile and be involved. We sing great old songs. And we’re good friends, and then if we have time, we usually have lunch after we sing. I’ve done this for a long time. We laugh about it now because we think we’re getting the best part of the therapy! I mean, to walk into a place and afterwards to see what you’ve done. When you leave, they’re sitting up, they’re clapping, some of them crying. It’s all right if they cry because it’s emotion, and it’s better than just sitting there. So, I’m a huge believer in musical therapy and still do that..