Sybil B. Harrington

Sybil Buckingham Harrington shared her wealth not only with Amarillo causes but also with others throughout the nation.

A native of Amarillo, she was the granddaughter of Amarillo pioneers Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Hughes and the daughter of the late Frank and Roxy Buckingham. In 1935, she married Donald D. Harrington, a legend in the booming Texas oil and gas industry.

In their travels, the Harringtons enjoyed collecting art. Mrs. Harrington donated a portion of the collection to the Phoenix Museum of Art. Her historic home at 1600 S. Polk now operates as a house museum with a collection of decorative arts and furnishings.

Her devotion to the arts continued with her gifts to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the Julliard School of Music.

She funded $1.2 million in scholarships at West Texas A&M University. The school’s board of regents dedicated the Sybil B. Harrington School of Arts and Humanities on the Canyon campus in 1989 to honor her. The school also bestowed its first honorary doctorate on her in 1994.

The Harrington name became synonymous with every successful charitable and cultural endeavor throughout the Texas Panhandle. IT appears on the regional medical center, numerous medical facilities and several of the headquarters of non-profit agencies in honor of gifts Mrs. Harrington made personally or through the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation. After her husband’s death in 1974, she became president of the foundation. The foundation continues to make grants to organizations throughout the Panhandle as part of the Amarillo Area Foundation.

The Boy Scouts honored her with the council’s first James E. West award in 1994 to recognize her support.

The Harrington Library Consortium links academic and public libraries throughout the Panhandle.

Mrs. Harrington’s gifts of almost $17.5 million made the Don and Sybil Harrington Cancer Center possible. The medical center became the Harrington Regional Medical Center in 1990.

She also established the Sybil B. Harrington Scholarship Fund of the Amarillo College Foundation. She was named Globe News Woman of the Year for 1979. Mrs. Harrington died Sept. 17, 1998.

This biography is reprinted from the special section History Makers of the High Plains, published by the Amarillo Globe News on May 14, 2000.