Joan Walne has been involved with Dallas parks, philanthropy and more
Joan Walne is passionate about Dallas city parks. The spray fields at the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center, the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum, and Klyde Warren Park were all created during his 9-year tenure on the Dallas Park Boardbut she’s also a strong advocate for postage-stamp-sized plots deep in neighborhoods where families can throw a ball, fly a kite and lay out a picnic basket.
The threads of Walne’s impact run through every aspect of Dallas life. She convinced Richardson ISD to keep the community with a freshman center instead of carving up the neighborhood for a third college in the 1990s, and lobbied for a new aquatic center at the Lake Highlands North Recreation Center when our pool needed to be closed. down. She has held leadership positions with the Lake Highlands Women’s League, Children’s Medical Center, Junior League of Dallas, Dallas Arboretum, Fair Park, Preservation Dallas, and the Dallas Historical Society. She is currently Chair of the Board of Kershaw’s Challenge, which supports women and children in Dallas, Los Angeles, Zambia and the Dominican Republic; on the board of the Trust for Public Land, working to create parks and green spaces in urban areas; and a member of the executive committee of the Dallas Zoo.
Walne learned the art of selfless service from his mother, Patricia Graves, and stepmother, Frances Walne. Graves raised her two daughters as a single mother in a Dairy-Queen town near Denver and later became a school counselor at RISD. Her daughter got a scholarship to attend SMU.
“She taught me that our circumstances don’t define us and that you don’t know a person until you walk a mile in their shoes,” Walne says. “She always said this life was not a dress rehearsal, and I continued that with my own children and grandchildren.”
Frances Walne, a leader of the Lake Highlands Women’s League and area PTAs, was made an early widow when her husband Herb, founder of Herb’s Paint and Body, died of lung cancer aged 58.
“Frances has set a wonderful example of loving her family well and valuing the value of family. I’m not a big fan of events. I love parties, but I love life I like to know what my grandkids are doing. I don’t want to get high, but I like to step in when asked,” she says.
Walne and her husband Alan are often referred to as the “Lake Highlands Power Couple” and she embraces the idea that the two can achieve more by working together. Alan has credited his wise counsel during pivotal times on the Dallas City Council, the State Fair of Texas Board of Trustees, the Parkland Hospital Board of Trustees, and the Dallas Salesmanship Club Board of Trustees, among other leadership roles.
“I think we teamed up well,” she said. “His involvement has never been all his own, and when opportunities have presented themselves to me, Alan has been my best cheerleader. Sometimes we fit together and sometimes we have our own roles, but we always support each other.
Walne says she and her husband share an overriding philosophy to leave the community better than they found it, and the attitude has been embraced by her daughter Sarah and son Robert. Sarah and Ryan Hefton raise their children near White Rock Elementary, where Sarah recently served as president of the PTA. Robert and Stephani Walne also send their children to the WRE, and Robert has just completed his term as President of the Exchange Club.
Walne says meeting young moms in the neighborhood has overwhelmed her with their dedication and abilities. “I recently had the opportunity to sit on a committee and I could barely speak. They were, one after another, so talented and so impressive.
“Mothers today find incredible opportunities for service alongside their children, which models wonderful behavior, and I see school groups trying not to focus too much on themselves. long and they don’t have to look far to find a place where they can make a difference, whether it’s a one-time project or an ongoing effort.
New moms know the secret of service, says Walne; the person who benefits the most is not the person in need at all.
“We were not put on this earth to be takers. We were put here to share our talents and be centered on others. It’s so gratifying to know that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
It’s too early to tell if Walne’s spirit of service is rubbing off on his seven grandchildren, but his love for Dallas appears to be. They happily accept her invitations to visit the Arboretum and Zoo, even though they are too young to understand the role she played in building them.
“The Arboretum provided a perfect place to cool off with my mom and Alan while they were well and battling illness, and now we like to take the little ones,” she says. “I appreciate the opportunities they open up for families and for learning.”
Learn more about this year’s fierce women.