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DALLAS (CBS11) – Ebby Halliday was often called the first lady of real estate and so it may be fitting former First Lady Laura Bush paid tribute to her at a memorial service at Park Cities Baptist Church.

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“Ebby was the first, first lady of Dallas. For decades, Ebby has been a generous supporter of our community. And as a pioneer, she set an example not only for women in business, but for all entrepreneurs.”

About 3,000 people attended the service, including 1,700 associates and 200 employees.

Halliday died last week of natural causes at 104.

She first came to Dallas in 1938 and sold hats.

In 1945, Halliday started her residential real estate business and turned Ebby Halliday Realtors into one of the biggest in the nation.

Halliday loved Dallas and the people in this city loved her back.

Mrs. Bush said, “The people of Dallas are filled with gratitude for nearly 80 years with Ebby Halliday. In fact, my mother-in-law Barbara Bush said Ebby was Dallas.”

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Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings called Halliday, “A hero, a hero for the city of Dallas, a city mother who built the modern day city that we have. A person who was an entrepreneur and was part of the untold story of the import of women in this city.”

Gene Jones, wife of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, attended the service with her daughter Charlotte Anderson.

She called Halliday the backbone of Dallas and a great fan. “The Cowboys would never be what they are without her support. She was there for the Cowboys and that means a lot to Jerry and me and Charlotte, she was just a wonderful friend.”

Mary Frances Burleson, who Halliday named President of Ebby Halliday Realtors in 1989, said she gave back. “She fell in love with Dallas. She loved this community and so she’s given a lot of time to the park board, charitable events, money, time, she just loved this area.”

Burleson says even though Halliday didn’t visit the office during the last ten months, she still worked. “We would go see her, she’d want to know the numbers, what was going on, so staff would keep her apprised.”

At the end of the service, those who attended watched a video in which Halliday played her trademark ukulele and sang a modified version of “Happy Days Are Here Again”.
She left them laughing back then, and received a standing ovation now.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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