We're sad to announce that Eve McArthur passed away yesterday following a long battle with cancer.
Eve joined the SXSW staff in 1989, the third year of the event, as the Volunteer Coordinator. She became the Office Manager, and was named Director of Operations in 1998, putting her in the top tier of SXSW's management.
Her professional background included time spent at the Dallas Theater Center, where she performed in a production of What Price Glory? and worked in costume design on The Tempest. Later she was employed as a flight attendant for American Airlines and as Executive Director for the Center for Battered Women.
Eve was part of the Lubbock migration to Austin in the '70s, led by artists Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. She and her family were very close to Tommy and Charlene Hancock and their daughters, whose musical acts the Supernatural Family Band and the Texana Dames, were the center of a large extended circle of friends and relatives.
Eve's open-hearted West Texas demeanor made her a friendly voice and a natural organizer for SXSW. She implemented the first health care package for SXSW employees and was deeply involved in forming SXSW's sustainability policy, which led to the founding of SXSW ECO, our annual event focused on environmental issues.
Eve retired in 2010, and became Director Emeritus, but remained involved in SXSW activities.
She is survived by her daughter Erin McArthur and son Aiden Cohen.
Some of the SXSW Staff have shared their memories of Eve...
Eve played countless roles during the decades she devoted to SXSW – Director, Den Mother, Bookkeeper, Recruiter, and more. In my mind, though, she was always our Moral Compass pointing us toward The Light and away from The Dark Side; the voice at our shoulder reminding us to keep one eye on the greater good amidst the hubbub of building our bigger and better enterprise. Eve embodied the best traits of a certain brand of Texas liberal pragmatist. She was adventurous, independent, whip-smart, a little bit crazy and, most of all, supremely generous of heart. SXSW owes its unique character to the unique characters who shaped it and Eve’s spirit will always be part of its soul. - Mike Shea
The very first day I arrived at the SXSW office, after a long flight from New Zealand with a very vague 'offer' of volunteer work and having walked from 4th Street to 40th Street, I showed up and the person I was supposed to be meeting wasn't available and no one knew anything about me. He was "in a meeting, come back later." I left and came back, but he was "still in a meeting. We can't help you."
I remember going outside and sitting on the small stone wall out the front of the old office. I was just wondering if I'd wasted a ton of money coming to Austin and figuring out what I was going to do with the next two months of my time, when Eve wandered out of the front door of the office and came over and introduced herself. She'd heard my accent when I was asking at reception and saw me sitting on the wall from the window of her office.
She then brought me inside, took me around the whole office introducing me with "he's flown all the way from New Zealand to volunteer for us" and then went and got the person out of their meeting and told them to get me sorted. I'll never forget her for that. The first person that actually spoke to me at SXSW. - Cary Caldwell
Simply put, I wouldn't be where I am today if Eve didn't take me under her wing and mentor me. I started as her intern when she needed help while going through chemo the first time, many years ago. I had met her at a family party and she struck me as the coolest lady. I didn't even really know what she did for a living, I just knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
Eve loved to tell me about the old days and give me the backstory on people. I could and did listen to her talk about SXSW of yore for hours. One classic intern job she gave me was to sort through all her old files and store anything older than a certain year. That project taught me more about running a large event than just about anything else. We had lots of highs and lows. Certainly, taking over even part of her responsibilities wasn't easy. She had her own way of doing things and the learning curve was steep.
I'll never forget helping with the 60+ pies we used to organize for the annual Christmas party with the Chronicle. She was dessert czar and I was her second-in-command. She took our dessert extravaganza seriously and everyone was grateful for it. It's amazing to me that she organized, fed, mothered, and all around took care of so many of us at SXSW for as long as she did. There is no one quite like her. I'll miss her. - Tammy Lynn Gilmore
Photo Credit: Hans Watson