Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton
July 16, 1944 – November 9, 2018
Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton was born on the 16th of July 1944, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Houston, TX. It is fitting that Dorothy Knox began her association with Houston in the city’s first and oldest maternity center, for throughout her life she advocated passionately for Houston, Texas, and American culture and history and for historic preservation.
Dorothy Knox was born to Dorothy Virginia Trone Howe Dupree (1911-2009) and Knox Briscoe Howe (1903-1951). She lived most of her life in Houston, attending The Kinkaid School from kindergarten through tenth grade, and Lamar High School through graduation in 1962.
Dorothy Knox left Texas to attend Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, from which she graduated in 1966 before pursuing a Masters in English from The University of Texas at Austin (1968). In 1966, mutual friends from the east coast introduced Dorothy Knox to Thomas Woodward Houghton, a young Princeton graduate who was attending The University of Texas School of Law. Two years later, Dorothy Knox and Tom were married and began their life together in Houston. Initially, their lives centered around Tom’s legal career and their many shared cultural interests, until the arrival of their two daughters transformed them into a busy family of four.
Dorothy Knox was a member of The Texas Arts Alliance, The Junior League of Houston, The Ballet Guild, The Rice Design Alliance, The River Oaks Blossom Club, The Forest Club, The Houston Club, The Assembly, The English Speaking Union, The Sulgrave Club (Washington, D.C.), The Friends of the Texas Room, The San Jacinto Museum of History, and The National Cathedral Association, among others. She often accepted leadership roles on the boards of these organizations, and was proudly serving on the board of The Houston Ballet Guild when they hired Ben Stevenson as Artistic Director in 1976.
Dorothy Knox and Tom also quickly became active members of Christ Church Cathedral, where Tom ultimately served on the Vestry and Dorothy Knox was President of the Ladies Parish Association. Though raised a Presbyterian, Dorothy Knox honored her family’s long association with the Cathedral, where her ancestors John Birdsall and DeWitt Clinton Harris were founding members, when she became an Episcopalian and she was proud to see her grandchildren become the 8th consecutive generation of Christ Church Cathedral members.
Through her life, Dorothy Knox connected deeply to her family’s and community’s histories. She took pride in her descent from two of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300 original settlers, Andrew Briscoe and John R. Harris, as well as from Alexander Thomson, Jr., surveyor and partner in Robertson’s Colony in the 1830s. In a family full of strong-willed and accomplished women, Dorothy Knox appreciated that her great-great-great-grandmother Jane Birdsall Harris housed the Texas government as they fled from Santa Anna in April 1836 during the Runaway Scrape. The Mexican Army burned the Harris home in frustration when they arrived to find that the government had escaped Harrisburg by boat; but, Mrs. Harris persevered and rebuilt the family home later the same year. Ultimately, the Texas government named Harris County after John R. Harris and his family.
Dorothy Knox was a fierce advocate for historic preservation within Houston. Her dismay at the many major losses in residential and commercial architecture during her lifetime spurred her to co-author and spearhead the major book project that resulted in Houston’s Forgotten Heritage: Landscape, Houses, Interiors, 1824-1914. The expansive archives that the authors assembled in the process of writing the book are a treasure trove of Houston’s history, now housed at the Houston Public Library in the Houston Metropolitan Research Center (HMRC). She also authored The Houston Club and Its City: One Hundred Years. Dorothy Knox was pivotal in the creation of The Friends of the Texas Room, the organization formed to support the HMRC and the 1926 Julia Ideson Building, Houston’s original public library. As a cofounder and lifelong president of the organization, she played an important role in ensuring the restoration of the Ideson Building in recent years. The Friends of the Texas room and HMRC have installed a temporary exhibit in her honor to recognize her leadership in compiling and protecting an historical record of Houston and the surrounding region.
Dorothy Knox also descended from many early Colonial Americans who helped to shape the politics and culture of the British Colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Her passion for history and for understanding her own family’s past led her deep into genealogy and into membership and activism within the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Daughters of the American Revolution, The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in Texas (NSCDA-TX), and the San Jacinto Museum of History. In recent years, she was president of the NSCDA-TX, where she spearheaded a major restoration of the Neill-Cochran House Museum in Austin, resulting in a dramatic revitalization of the museum’s mission and standing in Central Texas.
During a sojourn in Washington, D. C. in the late 1970s, Dorothy Knox became involved with the National Cathedral Association. She joined the board and was an advocate for the National Cathedral back in Houston where she successfully lobbied for the National Cathedral Christmas Day service to run on Houston television each year. She considered it an honor and a thrill to be present when the final stone was laid to complete the National Cathedral in 1990, after 83 years of construction.
Throughout her life, Dorothy Knox focused much of her time and energy on education, particularly American history as well as multicultural understanding and sensitivity. She was known for her keen intelligence, critical thinking, and sharp wit. Friends and scholars frequently approached her for advice and tapped her vast knowledge of architectural, political, and social history.
Dorothy Knox enjoyed all of the performing arts in Houston and had subscriptions to the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, Da Camera, and the Alley Theater. She put great emphasis on ensuring that her children and grandchildren had access to the best possible education and wholeheartedly supported her daughters’ professional careers. She believed a parent’s or grandparent’s responsibility was to mold the young into productive members of society and was gratified to encourage that development. Dorothy Knox felt that it was crucial to understand our own history in order to fully experience the wider world. She loved sharing her encyclopedic knowledge of Texas history and culture with her grandchildren. She introduced them to travel and the abundant natural beauty in America; so that, as they grow, they will have a reference point for their international explorations. Dorothy Knox was an avid and intrepid traveler. She particularly enjoyed venturing to far flung destinations like Myanmar, China, Brazil, Peru, and Norway in recent years.
On Friday, the 9th of November 2018, Dorothy Knox completed her time with us, after a 15-month battle with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. From the time of her diagnosis, Dorothy Knox fought the disease with everything she had, aided by an army of friends. Her family would like to thank all those who lifted her up, and who helped us face the challenge over this past year. Their support is a testament to Dorothy Knox’s desire to live a life of purpose and of service to her friends. And, her family will never forget their love and support. Her family also thanks Walter Martinez and Andrew Edwards for their devotion to Dorothy Knox and her family, and in particular for their ready presence throughout her illness.
Dorothy Knox was preceded in death by her parents, Dorothy Trone Howe Dupree and Knox Briscoe Howe, and her husband Thomas Woodward Houghton. She is survived by her daughters, Rowena Woodward Houghton Dasch and her husband Kevin Michael Dasch, and Adele Birdsall Houghton and her husband Fernando Autrique Langenscheidt; her brother Harris Milton Howe and his wife Jane Wiley Howe; her first cousin Mary Elizabeth White; her nephews Knox Briscoe Howe II and his fiancée Jamie In, and Edward Alexander Howe; and, her grandchildren Caroline Woodward Dasch, Elizabeth Briscoe Dasch, Thomas Bixente Houghton Autrique, and Evelia Elizabeth Houghton Autrique.
Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from half-past one o’clock until half-past four o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday, the 2nd of December, in the library and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
A memorial service will be conducted at half-past four o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, the 3rd of December, at Christ Church Cathedral, 1117 Texas Avenue in Houston. Following the service, all are invited to greet the family during a reception to be held at a venue to be announced during the service.
Prior to the memorial service, the family will have gathered for a private internment service at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends consider a donation in her honor to the Dorothy Knox and Thomas Woodward Houghton Endowment at Christ Church Cathedral (1117 Texas Avenue, Houston TX 77002), MD Anderson Cancer Center (PO Box 4486 Houston, TX 77201), Bo’s Place (10050 Buffalo Speedway, Houston TX 77054), or the charity of your choice.
- The Dorothy Knox and Thomas Woodward Houghton Endowment at Christ Church Cathedral
- MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Bo’s Place
- or the charity of your choice
- Visitation Sunday, December 2, 2018
- Memorial Service Monday, December 3, 2018
- Prior to the memorial service, the family will have gathered for a private internment service at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.
Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton
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January 19, 2019
I am sorry to learn of her passing. We met in Salt Lake City when my son was a baby. Later when he attended rice, I visited her at home. I remember her picking me up in her car, and having dinner at her house, with wine. We looked at old bibles. I offered to take a taxi home, but she insisted on driving, and said the police would never trouble her. She was an amazing woman, and will be missed
November 12, 2018
Dear Rowena, Adele and Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you for the lost of your dear mother/family member, Dorothy Knox Howe Houghton. My fondest memory with her was at Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. She gave me a personal tour of how she spend her childhood days with Miss Ima Hogg at the grounds. She was a fine lady and will greatly be missed.
November 11, 2018
Dorothy Knox and I were in school together at Kinkaid and Lamar. I always liked her and I feel like we were good friends. I enjoyed visiting with her at our last Lamar Class reunion, Dorthy Knox always had a smile and was a first class lady. I am so sorry that she had to fight cancer. God bless her and I was honored to be one of her friends.
IN THE CARE OF