Virginia Chandler Dykes, who lived more than 30 years in Lakewood, was a child when her parents died in a car accident, and her grandparents ultimately raised her. “My grandmother always told me, ‘Get a good education and no one can take that away from you,’” she says. Dykes received her bachelor’s degree in art and psychology from Southern Methodist University in 1952. “There wasn’t much you could do with those degrees,” she laughs. Out of curiosity she met with Fanny Vanderkoi, Texas Women’s University’s first head of occupational therapy. “I talked with her in her office, and she said that I was going to be an occupational therapist. It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Dykes says. She completed the program in two years and went on to be director of Baylor University Medical Center’s occupational and recreational therapy department for the next 25 years. “That was at a time when they were really building up Baylor,” she says. Dykes led several departments and clinics ranging from psychiatry to hand splinting. After noticing all the women gathering together to chat after dropping off their husbands, who were stroke patients, Dykes decided to form the first support group, called Boomerang. “The patients and wives really got behind it. We even had a crest made,” she says with pride. Dykes didn’t stop there, she also went on to create the Virginia Chandler Dykes endowed scholarship fund for TWU therapy students at her alma matter, with the help of her husband. The scholarship was a hit, and a friend suggested adding a program to honor outstanding clinicians. “Then I thought, why don’t we just expand this to involve all leaders in the community?” she says. After getting the OK from Ann Stuart, TWU chancellor and president, in 2002 she started the Virginia Dykes Leadership Award. Dykes has so far honored people such as Susan and Charles Cooper, Marnie and Kern Wildenthal, Myrna D. Schlegel and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman, and T. Boone Pickens. What started off with a collection of about 100 people in a medium-sized room at the inaugural award ceremony has turned into a group of 400 in celebration of the event. Recently Dykes’ husband died, and she’s looking for yet another goal to keep her busy. “To enable young people to achieve their dreams has been a joy to me and my beloved husband,” she says.
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