95-year-old Vivian Castleberry passed away Tuesday morning at her daughter’s home in Georgia. The former newspaper editor will always be remembered as the woman who opened doors for females in journalism starting in the 1950’s.
Journalism was always in her blood. She was determined to have a career at a time when most women stayed home to take care of their families.
Castleberry was a journalist at her high school in East Texas. She went to Southern Methodist University (SMU) where she joined the newspaper. There she started as a writer and eventually moved up to feature editor and then to assistant editor.
From 1956 to 1984, Castleberry held the position of women’s editor for the Dallas Times Herald’s Living section. She was known for being objective and exposing cultural taboos and didn’t let resistance from other editors at the Times Herald stop her.
She was one of the first reporters who wrote about topics like domestic violence, inequality at work, and child abuse. Castleberry also became the first woman elected to the newspaper’s editorial board. She won numerous awards for her work.
The JFK Assassination
Castleberrry covered many interesting stories during her career. She was working the day President John F. Kennedy visited Dallas on November 22, 1963. She got first hand information of Kennedy’s assassination from her cousin who was standing next to Abe Zapruder. He was the photographer who took what has become the most important film documentation of Kennedy’s assassination. Castleberry said her cousin was Zapruder’s assistant but was never interviewed by the Warren Commission which looked into the case.
The many stages of Vivian Castleberry
Castleberry was one of the first women to show that a mother can work and raise her children. She and her husband had five children, and Castleberry kept on working.
She wrote four books: Daughters of Dallas, The Texas Tornado, Sarah the Bridge Builder, and Seeds of Success. In 1984, Castleberry was inducted into the Texas Woman’s Hall of Fame.
Castleberry also founded 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.
In 2010, the University of North Texas established the Castleberry Peace Institute. Today it offers cutting-edge research and educational programs on the causes of war and peace.
Vivian Castleberry will always be known as a true Texas Trailblazer.
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