We are honored to introduce The Boone Family Foundation Courtyard at the STEM Center of Excellence at Camp Whispering Cedars, dedicated to three Texas Trailblazers: Vivian Castleberry, Louise Raggio and Virginia Whitehill.
Vivian Anderson Castleberry is the founder of Peacemakers Incorporated. In 1988, she served as Chairwoman of Peacemakers’ First International Women’s Peace Conference, which was attended by over 2,000 women from 57 countries.
Devoted to peaceful resolution of conflicts, Ms. Castleberry has served as a “grassroots Citizen Diplomat”, making four trips to Russia to meet with Russian citizens beginning in 1984. In 2005, she returned to Russia to co-lead women’s leadership and intergenerational conferences in Leningrad and Moscow and to interview young Russian entrepreneurs who had trained in the United States and returned to run their own communities to help create a more democratic Russia. In 2006, Ms. Castleberry co-hosted delegations of small business owners and women lawyers from Russia who travelled to Dallas for training on association-building and comparative law.
Ms. Castleberry is a native Texan, a graduate of Southern Methodist University (SMU), and an SMU Distinguished Alumnae. In 1999, SMU awarded Ms. Castleberry with an honorary doctorate.
From 1956 to 1984, Ms. Castleberry served as the women’s editor of the Dallas Times Herald. She headed the Living section of the paper and was the first woman named to the paper’s editorial board. During her 28-year tenure at the Herald, Ms. Castleberry won numerous journalism awards including three “Katie” awards given by the Press Club of Dallas, two United Press International (“UPI”) awards, a state Headliners award, two University of Missouri awards for overall excellence of women’s pages, a Southwestern Journalism Forum award and the Buck Marryat Award given by the Press Club of Dallas for “outstanding contributions to communications.”
Ms. Castleberry was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1984, the year the honor was created. She has been honored with the Laurel Award given by the American Association of University Women; a Women Helping Women Award given by the Women’s Center of Dallas; a Women Helping Women Award given by the Soroptimist Club, and the Extra Mile Award given by the Business and Professional Women’s Club.
Since taking early retirement in May 1984, Ms. Castleberry has written four books: Daughters of Dallas, The Texas Tornado, Sarah the Bridge Builder, and Seeds of Success. She is a consultant to other writers, has taught at local community colleges, and makes numerous speeches, recently speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In May 2009, KERA-TV released a documentary of her life in their “Texas Trailblazer” series. In 2010 she was honored as one of Women’s eNews 21 Leaders of the 21st Century.
Ms. Castleberry is married to the late Curtis W. Castleberry, a retired high school teacher.
Jennifer Bartkowski, Virginia Whitehill and Vivian Castleberry
Known as the “Mother of Family Law in Texas,” Louise Raggio was also known as mentor, civil rights activist, champion for the rights of women and children, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Despite her family’s modest economic circumstances, Louise graduated from Austin High School, where she was valedictorian, and the University of Texas in Austin, where she graduated second in her class. Upon graduation from college Louise won a Rockefeller Fellowship to Washington, D. C. She always treasured this year of work and study as one of the best years of her life. Upon the completion of her fellowship, she returned to Texas and met and married Grier Henry Raggio, her husband of 47 years until his death in 1988.
Louise had many firsts. She was the only woman in her class at the SMU School of Law, the first woman criminal assistant district attorney in Dallas County, the first Chairwoman of the Texas Family Law Section, the first woman Director of the Texas Bar, and the first chairwoman of the Texas Bar Foundation. Her most satisfying professional accomplishment was her leadership in the reform of Texas Property laws that gave married women the right to own property in their name, the first step in the massive reform of Texas family law that has become the Texas Family Code.
In honor of her dedication in both civil and legal matters, Louise has been the recipient of local, state, and national awards, some of which bear her name. Louise was committed to her profession, but she was equally committed to her family.
Jennifer Bartkowski, Lorraine Raggio, Grier Raggio Jr., Kit Addleman
Virginia Bulkley Whitehill, a lifelong activist for women, comes by her feminism naturally. Her mother Myrtle Bulkley worked for women’s suffrage, and was a charter member of the League of Women Voters. She has worked for decades for women’s rights, and co-founded the Dallas Women’s Coalition, the Dallas Women’s Foundation, and The Family Place, the first shelter for battered women in Dallas, among many other projects.
Her volunteer work has won her many awards, including the Women’s Council of Dallas County Distinguished Service Award and the Women Helping Women Maura Award of the Women’s Center of Dallas and the Association of Women Journalists Women of Courage Award. In 2000, Whitehill was honored by the Texas Women’s Chamber of Congress as a Woman of the Century. She has two children, and graduated from Mount Holyoke College.
As a result of their dedication to women’s rights, our girls have the opportunity to write their own life stories, grow in innovation and ultimately change the dynamics in the male-dominated STEM industry.