Eleanor (Nell) Pape, philanthropist, was born on July 21, 1888, in Waco, Texas, to Richard and Ina (Crain) Jurney. She attended Central High School and Baylor Academy in Waco but did not graduate. At Moravian College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she completed a finishing course that included music and cooking. In 1912 she married German immigrant Gustav Hermann Pape, a cotton agent, and settled in Dallas. After Pape organized the cotton export firm of Pape, Williams, and Company in Waco in 1923, the couple returned to Waco. Mrs. Pape accompanied her husband on his extensive business travels, and they established a second home in Bremen, Germany. The Papes returned to the United States in 1939 and settled near Axtell on an estate named Hideaway. Nell Pape's first philanthropic acts in Axtell included helping her servants, financing a church building, and transporting children to the doctor for diphtheria vaccinations. When Gus Pape became incapacitated by Hodgkin's disease, the Papes returned to Waco (in 1952). Nell continued her generosity by supporting her husband's German relatives who had been devastated by World War II, funding scholarships for college students, and contributing money to various local institutions for construction and improvements. After Pape died in 1956, Nell established the G. H. Pape Foundation in his memory.
She was twice president of the Waco Garden Club and in 1957 purchased and restored the Johnson-Taylor house, built in the 1870s, as a gift to the Waco Council of Garden Clubs; it was renamed the Nell Pape Garden Center. She led an unsuccessful campaign in the late 1960s to prevent the extension of Herring Avenue through Cameron Park and to beautify Fifth Street through central Waco. Another of her restoration activities was the Earle-Harrison house, which faced demolition during the construction of an interstate highway through Waco. The house was relocated and restored to its 1858 decor. Nell Pape died on December 20, 1981. In her will she left almost a million dollars to specific bequests, including family members, churches, and various nonprofit organizations. The remainder of her estate went to the G. H. Pape Foundation for the maintenance of the Earle-Harrison house and for the continued beautification of Waco.
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Waco Daily Times-Herald, December 1, 1912.
Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Pape, Eleanor Fay Jurney,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: