By Elizabeth Lenart

Dykes will be honored on May 3, 2016, at the 4th Annual Visionary Women Luncheon,

benefiting Juliette Fowler Communities

Virginia Chandler Dykes is, without question, a woman of vision. Her passion for her lifelong work as an occupational therapist, coupled with her servant’s heart and desire to improve life for others, has created a legacy of leadership, mentorship and philanthropy in the Dallas community and beyond.   She will be honored as the 2016 Visionary Woman by Juliette Fowler Communities at the 4th Annual Visionary Women Luncheon on May 3. This luncheon celebrates the vision of Juliette Peak Fowler, Dallas’ first female philanthropist, and honors individuals who embody her compassionate spirit and who use their visionary leadership and remarkable gifts to make a difference in the lives of others in our community.

Dallasites who did not already know Virginia from her active community work and longtime residence in Lakewood, have become familiar with her over the last 14 years through her work with Texas Woman’s University and her namesake luncheon which has become one of Dallas’ premiere events.  The Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, which was the brainchild of Dykes and her late husband Roland, honors a Dallas leader(s), dedicated to improving quality of life and to furthering the importance of education.

“We envisioned an event that would encourage the civic leaders of Dallas to become involved with TWU to raise enough funds to benefit all four colleges at TWU as well as an endowment,” said Virginia Chandler Dykes.  “I am so pleased that, over the years, we have raised over $550,000 and awarded more than 100 scholarships.”

Born in Illinois to Guy and Helen Goodman, Dykes would experience loss at an early age when her parents were killed in an automobile accident.  From age 5 she grew up with Grandmother Goodman at her side, and she became a Texan.

“My grandmother always taught me to say, ‘get a good education, and no one can ever take it away from you.’” added Dykes.  “I think I really listened to her and believed that.”

She graduated with a degree in art and psychology from Southern Methodist University in 1952. Not sure what to do with her degree, she met with Texas Woman’s University’s first head of occupational therapy, Fanny Vanderkooi, who encouraged her to pursue occupational therapy. Dykes never looked back. She completed the graduate occupational therapy program at TWU in 1954, and for 25 years she would help advance her profession across diverse areas of practice while serving as Director of Occupational and Recreational Therapy for Baylor University Medical Center.  Her work impacted several areas including rehabilitation, adult and adolescent psychiatry, eating disorders, hand splinting, and acute physical disabilities. She also founded the Boomerang Club, the first Dallas support group for stroke patients and their families.

Among other responsibilities, she organized and supervised an OT internship program serving 23 Texas universities.  Dykes retired in 1988 leaving behind a significant legacy of professional contributions.  She then began a long association with her alma mater, TWU, and its Occupational Therapy department.  By establishing the Fanny B. Vanderkooi Endowed Lecture for the School of Occupational Therapy, Virginia acknowledged her TWU heritage and the first OT program director while promoting a community of learning.

Dykes is also known for her leadership in organizations such as The Dallas Opera, the Dallas Arboretum Women’s Council and the Fort Worth Opera.  In 2014, she was honored as one six Women of the Year by Les Femmes du Monde. In 2012, Virginia and her late husband Roland were honored by the American Occupational Therapy Association for their sustained philanthropic service to Occupational Therapy Education, and in 2011, they were honored with the Texas Occupational Therapy Distinguished Service Award. Additionally, in 2005, Dykes was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve on TWU’s Board of Regents, where she served until 2011.  Dykes remains close with her sons, Jim Dykes, Ron Chandler and Chuck Chandler and their wives and children.

“We are thrilled to honor Virginia as our 2016 Visionary Woman,” said Sabrina Porter, president and chief executive officer, Juliette Fowler Communities.  “Virginia’s passion for occupational therapy, education and the arts is perfectly aligned with our mission. Our residents and staff have benefited from her work and her support of students in social work, therapy and nursing.  Her life’s work mirrors ours and has encouraged self-sufficiency, independence and fulfillment.”

The luncheon will be held at the Omni Dallas Hotel, on Tuesday, May 3, at noon. Tickets are $150.  Contact Coleman Rabourn at 214-515-1342. All proceeds benefit One Heart, Juliette Fowler Communities’ annual fund, which supports areas of greatest need for Fowler residents. Founded in 1892, the intergenerational community has cared for thousands of elders, children, youth and families and continues to do so today.

“I am extremely honored to be named this year’s visionary woman. I know there are many deserving women in this community,” added Dykes.  “It gives me great joy to think of my dear friend, the late Ebby Halliday, who received this honor in 2013 and whose impact on the Fowler Communities is evident today.  This organization does amazing work and changes lives.”


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