March 28, 2018
I was so very saddened to recently learn of the passing of 1 of our profession's most remarkable and widely respected leaders, Lynda Woodruff, PT, PhD. She was a true inspiration both to me and to the many people whose lives she touched throughout her exceptional career.
As I write this to humbly honor Dr. Woodruff, it occurs to me that hers is a story of many "firsts." Never one to shy away from challenge, she began her journey of "firsts" at age 13 when in 1962 she and 1 other African American student became the first to desegregate EC Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia. Her powerful story of strength in the face of adversity, at so young an age, captures the mind and clearly reveals the true character of this great woman. I encourage you to take a moment to read more of her fascinating story.
Lynda would go on to become the first African American to join the faculty in the Division of Physical Therapy at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a founding director and professor in the department of physical therapy at North Georgia State College, and she launched the first doctor of physical therapy program at Alabama State University. Her groundbreaking leadership is simply amazing.
Although "better together" has been 1 of APTA's more recent rallying cries, it is clear that Lynda Woodruff knew it well throughout her life. Propelled by her childhood experiences, she led the charge for inclusion. She became a voice for minorities and a champion for diversity. She helped to weave diversity and togetherness into the fabric of our profession and this association, making it a part of who we are; a part of our consciousness. And we are truly better for it.
Lynda was a leader and a powerhouse who guided our profession through positive change toward a brighter future, open to all. Her work and dedication have made us stronger. She opened minds, and, in turn, doors for so many. She is respected and beloved by her colleagues and, perhaps especially, her students—her "Woody babies."
On behalf of APTA and the profession, I offer first my sincerest thanks to Lynda Woodruff for all she has done, and second my most heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. She was an icon and will be missed. I do hope some comfort will come from the knowledge that she will surely live on through her incredible legacy.
Read more about her life and accomplishments here.
Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD