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The Bivins Family Legacy: 70 Years of Generosity
Posted By: Becky Davis

On December 24, 1935, Mary Elizabeth Bivins wrote a letter to her grandchildren – one that would position the Bivins family to make a significant and lasting impact on the Amarillo community.

“To my dear grandchildren, Betty, Lee, Oliver, William, and Mary Miles.  I am giving to your fathers certain mineral rights and royalties in trust for you…. I hope you will use this for the betterment of humanity and honor to yourselves.”

Your granny,

Mary Elizabeth Bivins

Fourteen years after she penned the letter, the Mary E. Bivins Foundation was established as a nonprofit, religious, charitable, and educational undertaking.  Though it began very simply as a wish on a now yellowed piece of paper, the Foundation has for 70 years touched the lives of many throughout the top 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle.

The wish of Mary Elizabeth Bivins to leave this earth better than she found it continues to be realized with each successive generation of the Bivins family – through the Foundation she created as well as through their own individual efforts.

Granny Bivins’ dedication to the cause is remembered fondly by her family members and friends. Betty Teel, wife of grandson Lee T. Bivins, remembers that Granny “wouldn’t spend any money because she had to save every drop of it for her foundation.  She couldn’t buy anything. It might rob her foundation.”

Granny had always wanted to open a retirement home or home for senior adults, since there was no such facility available at the time. In 1952, the Elizabeth Jane Bivins Home for the Aged opened its doors on a 25-acre site in east Amarillo.  Granny had passed in 1951 and wasn’t able to witness the fulfillment of her dream, but some referred to it as “the finest thing ever done by an individual in the Panhandle.”

“The home was the last and greatest benevolence of a lady who for a quarter of a century had given away so much so quietly that none knew the full extent of her philanthropy” (Amarillo Daily News, February 11, 1952).

The Elizabeth Jane Bivins Home was just the beginning of decades of service to Amarillo’s senior population.  In 1965 the Foundation made possible the Bivins Center for Rehabilitation at High Plains Baptist Hospital, and played a key role in the development of the Amarillo Medical Center.  The Bivins Memorial Nursing Home opened in 1968 to care for those needing skilled nursing care. 

Today the Bivins Foundation carries out its mission through a number of organizations, programs and partnerships, including:

Bivins Pointe: A wellness community that provides short-term rehabilitation and skilled nursing services, an outpatient therapy clinic, and long-term residential care.

Bivins Villages: Affordable housing for senior adults that offers an independent and dignified lifestyle to its 120 residents.

The Elizabeth Jane Bivins Culinary Center: A facility producing healthy, high-quality food for Bivins Pointe and other clients.

The Mary E. Bivins Religious Scholarship Program: Scholarships for the purpose of educating ministers to preach the Christian religion.

Charitable Giving: Grants for charitable purposes that benefit agencies representing health care, education, human services, and arts and culture.

Recently the Mary E. Bivins Foundation celebrated its 70th anniversary.  While many changes have taken place over the past few decades, there is one thing that will never change:  their vision to “help each person achieve and maintain the highest standards possible in Dignity, Independence, Self-Worth and Good Health.

For seven decades, the Foundation has made good on this promise, and they’re just getting started. Granny Bivins would be so proud.

(sources: Touching Lives: The Lasting Legacy of the Bivins Family, ©2009 by Jeanne S. Archer ; Amarillo Daily News, www.bivinsfoundation.org)

By Kelli Bullard