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Ima Hogg Set a High Bar for Houston Philanthropists

It was 2 a.m. and Alexander "Mike" McLanahan's phone was ringing.

Ima Hogg was calling.

"Mr. McLanahan, I'm embarrased to be calling at 2 a.m., but you know how it is, I can never be certain about tomorrow," said Hogg, who was then in her 80s. "I just want you to know that a John Smibert painting will be coming up at auction next week. It will sell for around $500,000. I will put up $100,000 and, Mr. McLanahan, you will know how to raise the other $400,000. We must have that Smibert."

He raised it, of course, because that's what you did when the city's grand dame called.

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