Vivian Castleberry, Dallas champion of women and journalism, dies

Vivian Castleberry, Dallas champion of women and journalism, dies

Vivian Castleberry
Vivian Castleberry was a trailblazer as a woman journalist and a peace activist. Photo courtesy of The Kelley Group

Dallas journalist and pioneer Vivian Castleberry died on October 4 after a battle with breast cancer; she was 95.

Castleberry was born in Lindale, Texas on April 8, 1922, and graduated as valedictorian from her high school in Athens in 1940. She was a graduate of Southern Methodist University and a Distinguished Alumnae.

A lifelong journalist, she edited her high school newspaper, the SMU newspaper, and was women's editor of the Dallas Times Herald for 28 years, from 1956-1984.

She was the first woman to serve on the newspaper's editorial board, and helped draw attention to issues such as foster care, adoptions, abortion, domestic violence, and child poverty.

She won numerous awards, including a Legends award from the Dallas Press Club for lifetime excellence in journalism in 2013.

She was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1984 and was 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.

She helped found many women-centric nonprofits, including the Women's Center of Dallas, Women's Issues Network (WIN), and the Dallas Women's Foundation.

After her retirement from journalism in 1984, she became a peace activist, making trips to foreign countries as a "grassroots diplomat." The Oak Cliff Lions Club presented her with the Bill Melton Humanitarian Award in 2017 for her dedication to community and mankind.

In 2010, the University of North Texas founded the Castleberry Peace Institute, named after Vivian, to promote peace via research and education.

Vivian married her childhood sweetheart, Curtis W. Castleberry, who became a high school teacher; he died in 2013. She's survived by five daughters and multiple grandchildren.