Real Estate Legend Ebby Halliday Dies at 104

Ebby Halliday, who earned the title the “First Lady of Real Estate”, died peacefully in her sleep Tuesday night at 104 years old. Halliday, chairman of Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®, started her company in 1945 and built it into one of the largest independent real estate companies in the country. She’s also credited as paving the way for women in leadership of the National Association of REALTORS®.

“While we grieve the loss of Ebby, our legendary founder, friend and mentor, we celebrate a long life well lived,” says Mary Frances Burleson, Ebby Halliday Companies CEO. “Each of us who had the good fortune of knowing Ebby has been touched by the grace, fortitude and compassion with which she lived her life. Ebby had a very simple saying that she lived by, ‘Do something for someone every day.’ That small bit of wisdom served Ebby very, very well.”

Remembering Ebby Halliday

In Her Own Words

Ebby Halliday Interviewed by Dick Gaylord in 2008

Halliday was born in 1911 in a small town called Leslie, Ark. During the Great Depression, she moved to Dallas to work as hat department manager at the W.A. Green Store, and soon after, opened her own hat boutique. That eventually led her into real estate in a round-about way when a customer’s husband approached her about selling 50 single-family spec houses he had built that were made of insulated concrete.

“If you can sell those crazy hats to my wife, maybe you can sell my crazy houses,” Texas oilman Clint Murchison, founder of the Dallas Cowboys, told Halliday.

Indeed, Halliday did, and that prompted her to swap out her love for selling hats to houses.

In 1945, she started Ebby Halliday REALTORS®, a Dallas-based brokerage, that has since then bloomed to 1,700 sales associates.

In a past interview with REALTOR® Magazine, Halliday once said that in all her years in the business, the greatest challenge she saw for the industry was to “make the public understand the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent and to make fellow practitioners understand the importance of having a watchdog for our industry.”  

Halliday served in NAR for more than half of its 100-year-plus history. In 1957, she served as the president of the Women’s Council, and in 1963, she was the first woman ever to receive the Texas Association’s REALTOR® of the Year award.

“Ebby Halliday will be remembered as one of the great leaders of organized real estate ever,” says NAR CEO Dale Stinton. “She was an innovator in business, a pioneer for women professionals, and a true exemplar of what it means to be a REALTOR.”

She was also an avid supporter of her community. She was active in the Alexis de Tocqueville Society for United Way, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Guild, and the State Fair of Texas. She also served as president of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Dallas Planning Council and on the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. She opened several women’s centers throughout her life. In 2014, the YWCA of Metropolitan Dallas announced Ebby’s Place, which houses the YW Women’s Center. Also that year, the Juliette Fowler Communities announced The Ebby House, a transitional community for young women who have aged out of foster care.

Halliday has been the recipient of many honors in the industry, including NAR’s Distinguished Service Award as well as an inductee to the Dallas Business Hall of Fame, and the YWCA’s 100 Women 100 Years award. She also was the first recipient of the Executive Women International’s Executive Excellence Award.

Memorial service information is pending.

By REALTOR® Magazine Daily News