Annual Award Established to Recognize JFS Leadership

The Shirley and Allen Becker Award is presented to deserving leadership at Jewish Family Service annually.

Posted
January 17, 2021

Annual Award Established to Recognize JFS Leadership

The Shirley and Allen Becker Award is presented to deserving leadership at Jewish Family Service annually.

Posted
January 17, 2021
Houston Jewish Family Foundation Logo
“Our parents taught us what matters most: honesty, authenticity and helping others.”

Shirley and Allen Becker were a respected philanthropic couple, but they never focused on possessions or anyone’s money – including their own. Family and friends were always their priority.
Shirley was born in Sedalia, Missouri, and moved to Corpus Christi when she was 16. She studied education at the University of Texas. Allen was a native Houstonian who went to San Jacinto High School. He studied business at the University of Texas, where he and Shirley met. The couple married at the UT Hillel, where she wore a white dress and he wore a white suit.
They moved to Houston, where Allen went into the insurance business. Later, he partnered with his friend and banker, Sidney Shlenker, to start Pace Entertainment, the largest live entertainment business in the world. Allen believed “since most people can’t get to New York to see shows, we’ll bring the shows to the people.” He started the Broadway across America concept, and has received three Tony Awards.
Until her passing in 2008, Shirley kept the family structured and ‘normal,’ because, “Dad was regularly going to musicals, boat shows and destruction derbies,” recalls their daughter, Sunni Markowitz. Along with Sunni, the Beckers raised two sons, Brian and Gary. The family was involved in supporting the Jewish Federation, animal rights’ organizations and Congregation Emanu El, where the couple established the Becker Early Childhood Center.
Shirley was passionate about her work as a Board member at Jewish Family Service, because she was always dedicated to helping others. But Sunni’s adoption through JFS increased the family’s commitment and gratitude, eventually leading them to establish the Shirley and Allen Becker Leadership Award, given annually to recognize a volunteer leader of note and to further immerse leaders in the future of JFS. “The fund for this award was recently reinforced to make sure that there would be support for JFS leaders for decades to come,” shares Sunni. “Dad, as was Mom, is proud to be remembered for this, and as a family, so are we.”

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