There was nothing “little” about Anne Marion.
Known in her early years as “Little Anne,” to avoid confusion with her mother, “Miss Anne” – Anne Burnett Tandy – Anne Marion was a force all her own, as strong as a tornado-sized West Texas wind.
Anne’s mother was known as “Miss Anne” and was married to Charles Tandy.
The connections of Anne and her mother to Fort Worth run long and deep, tracing back to the Burnetts and also to the family of Martin B. Loyd, who founded the legendary First National Bank of Fort Worth.
Anne Marion died Feb. 11 in California at age 81. Although she traveled extensively and had homes in other states, Fort Worth and Texas were home.
She oversaw the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Burnett Foundation and Burnett Oil. She was as adept at dealing with businessmen and women as she was with the cowboys running the Four Sixes – 6666 – Ranch in Guthrie.
She also, along with husband John Marion, founded the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She was a connoisseur of art as well as an expert on horses and cattle.
Anne Marion was born into Texas ranching and oil aristocracy, but she was a tireless business leader and extraordinarily diligent worker. She ran things. Pure and simple.
“Her great-grandfather was rancher/oilman Captain Samuel ‘Burk’ Burnett, who founded what would become the Four Sixes Ranch and other Burnett holdings. Her great-great grandfather was Captain Martin B. Loyd, who established the First National Bank of Fort Worth,” according to the family history.
Her stewardship of the Four Sixes Ranch was as remarkable as the story behind her gaining control of it. The story is best told in the Burnett family’s official history, which you can read on the ranch’s website (www.6666ranch.com). The ranch was willed to Anne before she was born.
An excerpt: “Prior to his death in 1922, Miss Anne's grandfather, Captain Samuel “Burk” Burnett, willed the bulk of his estate to Miss Anne in a trusteeship for her yet unborn child. At the time of Miss Anne’s death on Jan. 1, 1980, her daughter Little Anne – Anne W. Marion – inherited her great-grandfather Captain Burnett's ranch holdings through directives stated in his will.”
Anne Marion had strong genes. Her grandfather, Tom, carved out his own path apart from his legendary father, Burk, and was a true cowboy. The stories of his trail drives are almost mythical. He was a working cowboy at 16 and built his own ranching empire.
Fort Worth lost an icon and a visionary leader when Anne Marion died.
There was no confusion about the foundation for her friendship and business relationship with another Fort Worth icon – Dee J. Kelly, founder of the law firm that bears his name. He died in 2015 at age 86.
The roots of their friendship were their intense loyalty to friends, family, and business associates. Once you were a friend of either, you were a friend for life.
That brand of loyalty seems rare these days.
When asked to comment on her passing I used the phrase “tough as whitleather.” I stole it from the late Mr. Kelly who used it once to describe another Fort Worth legend, John Justin, who was successfully fighting leukemia.
Anne Marion was tough and resilient and strong-minded. She was also compassionate and kind to a fault.
It seems these days that when we mourn the passing of community leaders such as Anne Marion, Dee Kelly and others, we feel more than a personal loss. We are left wondering if the new generation of younger people, particularly those of wealth, will fill the shoes of these individuals who gave so much to Fort Worth not only in terms of money but also in terms of vision and determined leadership to build a great community for others.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at email@example.com