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 biggest thing I remember about Eve was how kind she was to me when my mother died three years ago. I saw her and Erin at the creek cleanup a couple weeks after my mom passed away suddenly and Eve made sure to stop and give me a hug and talk to me about her for a while. Many people were at a loss for words and would avoid the subject, but it felt really good to have someone kind and motherly like Eve talk to me about it. She comforted me, and I can't even remember the exact words she used but I knew that she understood my pain and I was grateful for her support. She will be remembered by me as someone who didn't hesitate to share a kind word or reach out to someone in need. - Lynda Pyle
I was very sad to hear the news that Eve has passed away. We all knew that she had been ill for sometime, but we retained some hope that she was on the road to recovery. Sadly this was not the case, and my sympathy goes to Erin and the family for their tragic loss.
Eve was a lovely, very caring woman. I think we first met in 1989 when SXSW was still held at the Hyatt hotel. Just like today, there was a room for the SXSW staff to relax, have a drink and get a bite to eat. Something funny was said, and Eve started laughing. This is what I will always remember about her. She had a very special unique laugh – and I can still hear it now. If people can remember you for your laughter, then you know that you have done something good with your life. - Mirko Whitfield
Coming from so far away (Australia) to meet the principals before signing on as the Pacific rep and then alone again the first year, Eve was like the Steel Magnolia aunt—warmly welcoming, integrating me into the SXSW family, making me feel at home in Austin and always a help in wandering through the logistics of being a part of this dynamic organization. She was always happy, disarmingly gorgeous for someone our age, radiating warmth and care. She truly epitomized the SXSW spirit I’ve come to love after almost 12 years of service to the family. There’s a hole in my heart…. - Phil Tripp
Professionally, Eve taught me the SXSW ideology that has brought this event its current success. Her insight on volunteerism, smart spending, morale and her endless list of tips and tricks of the trade has found their way into my daily practices. She was a mentor to me on so many levels and she taught me about life in general.
Eve introduced me to so many amazing people that I cannot begin to count them all. I enjoyed hearing and learning from her life experiences, and connecting along the way. We were both flight attendants in our former lives and I always found that to be a fun fact for us both.
Not only was she a great mom to Erin and Aiden, but she cared for her extended family too. Eve was my “office mom.” I can remember her making sure I ate during the long hours of SXSW and she even delivered packages of clean, white socks to my work area on occasion. She made sure all of us went to bed at some point…whether by suggestion or that glare she could give that was a signal she meant business. And, she made sure to hug me every time she saw me. When I became a mom myself, I understood how she felt about her SXSW kids and I took on an even deeper understanding of her. We’re all family to her, and she was our matriarch.
The endless efforts that Eve invested herself in shaped her into a charismatic woman, and she brightened anyone’s soul who came in contact with her. She will be sorely missed by so many, both near and far. Eve will continue to live on in our hearts and her spirit will forever be a part of SXSW. - Tami Richter
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
Eve at SXSW Eco photo by Hans Watson