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  • Lynda Woodruff, Leader in Physical Therapy Education, Dies at 70

    Lynda D. Woodruff (1947-2018)

    Lynda Woodruff, PT, PhD, an educator and trailblazer in the physical therapy profession, died at her home on March 20. The APTA lifetime member was 70.

    Woodruff was a visiting professor at Alabama State University (ASU) and began the transitional doctor of physical therapy program there in 2008. She continued as a consultant until her death. In 2012 ASU established the Baines-Woodruff Endowed Lectureship on Health Disparities to honor Woodruff and Ruth E. Baines, PT, PhD, former assistant chancellor of health sciences for the State University of New York Central Administration.

    Earlier, Woodruff was the founding director and professor in the department of physical therapy at North Georgia College, having retired in 2005. The department was the state university system’s first postbaccalaureate physical therapist education program. In 1971 she received her master’s degree in physical therapy at Case Western Reserve University, and in 1974 she was 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. In 1978 she joined the faculty in Georgia State University’s Department of Physical Therapy, and in 1984 Georgia State awarded her a PhD.

    At the age of 13, Woodruff was 1 of 2 African American students to desegregate EC Glass High School in Lynchburg, Virginia, resulting in the first court-ordered desegregation since the landmark Brown v Board of Education decision in 1954.

    Woodruff would go on in her academic career to direct an award-winning program for minority student recruitment and retention at Georgia State. In 2014 she received the Education Achievement Award from the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia for her exceptional commitment to student learning and growth of the profession, as well as for her work to advance research and evidence-based practice. A member of the APTA Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management, Woodruff made particular strides in that field of practice. She also was a member of the Academy of Physical Therapy Education, a trustee for the Foundation for Physical Therapy, and a Georgia delegate to the APTA House of Delegates, and she served on the House Elections Committee.

    Woodruff was instrumental in establishing APTA’s original Advisory Council on Minority Affairs and the Office of Minority Affairs, and in establishing the Minority Scholarship Fund and the Minority Scholarship Award for Academic Excellence.

    Among Woodruff’s other numerous recognitions were APTA’s Lucy Blair Service Award, the Kellogg Fellowship for International Leadership, the Distinguished Service Award for the (then) Section on Clinical Electrophysiology, designation as a fellow of the American Academy of Physical Therapy, and a gubernatorial appointment to the Georgia State Board of Physical Therapy on which she served for more than 10 years. In 2006, the Georgia Senate declared February 24 as Dr Lynda D. Woodruff Appreciation Day.

    "The profession of physical therapy grieves the loss of Lynda Woodruff, a truly legendary champion for positive change," said APTA President Sharon L. Dunn, PT, PhD. "Dr. Woodruff’s spirit was big and her presence was powerful—a fact evidenced not just in her curriculum vita, but through the stories and successes of those she mentored and inspired, her 'Woody Babies.' Our profession has lost a an important voice, a stalwart advocate for our professional conscience for diversity and inclusion, a driver of clinical excellence in electrophysiological diagnostics, and a matriarch for others’ pursuit of opportunities within the profession and beyond. We will honor Dr. Woodruff’s legacy and her relentless pursuit of 'better' by doing better and being better at all the things for which she dedicated her life and career. Her loss will leave a void in many hearts."

    APTA has issued a statement on Woodruff from Dunn. Additionally an oral history of Woodruff, recorded in 2002, is part of APTA’s archives that association members can check out. Visit the Oral Histories webpage for instructions on borrowing and returning materials.

    Those wishing to make a donation to the APTA Minority Scholarship Fund in honor of Woodruff may make checks payable to "PT Fund," with "Minority Scholarship Fund" noted in the memo line. Checks should be mailed to APTA, 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314; ATTN: Minority Scholarship Fund.

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    • Lynda was a professor while I attended Georgia State. I feel very fortunate to have had her wisdom not just as a PT but as a woman in a significant time of my life. She was an excellent role model.

      Posted by Kathleen Swaim on 3/29/2018 9:01 AM

    • We have truly lost a shining light and pioneer. Hopefully we will not forgot all the important lessons Lynda taught us as no one else could. Rest in peace.

      Posted by Susan Effgen -> CNP]D on 3/29/2018 9:24 AM

    • As a "Woody Baby", I am saddened by the loss of our Beloved and revered Dr. Woodruff. More than the sense of loss, I would like to express my eternal gratitude for the gift of having her in personal and professional life and for all the wonderful opportunities the relationship has given me. I hope in true Lynda Woodruff spirit, I stand as an example of her truth and move forward in her spirit of caring for orthers. She is irreplaceable;but, those of us who grew under her gaze will forever work to honor serve and pass on her legacy of service to our professional and human kind. Rest well Beloved,you served us all in portions beyond all expectations. I will forever love you, LPBW

      Posted by Ann W.Jackson,PT,DPT,MPH on 3/29/2018 10:30 AM

    • Thank you for your post about Dr. Woodruff. I am a proud "Woody Baby" and can assure you that she will be missed by many. She was an amazing mentor - one who would constantly push you to perform at your highest level regardless of how difficult or uncomfortable. She did this because she knew the incredible impact we could & would have on our patients. I am forever grateful to her leadership, mentorship, and friendship.

      Posted by Rachael Walton-Mouw, PT, DPT, GCS on 3/29/2018 3:00 PM

    • We miss you so much!

      Posted by George Shaw on 3/29/2018 3:46 PM

    • She was a class act. I loved and repected her. She was an amazing woman, PT, teacher, mentor, and friend. I was privilege to know her. She loved the Lord and is dancing at His feet. She will be missed.

      Posted by Christine Kersey Thomas on 3/29/2018 4:42 PM

    • She was an Icon and will be greatly missed.

      Posted by Phyllis Kitchens on 3/29/2018 5:27 PM

    • What an inspiration and gift to our profession!. She, like Harold Potts who founded the PT Program at Quinnipiac University, paved the way for others especially people of color. Thoughts and prayers for her family, friends, colleagues and students.

      Posted by Tom Hobin on 3/29/2018 6:21 PM

    • Woody was bigger than life, and undeniably dedicated to our profession’s future. She rocked our world view through her sacrifice, life lessons, mentorship, and love.There is final rest for this tireless champion, may her memory ever be a blessing.

      Posted by Claire Mullin PT, DPT on 3/29/2018 7:41 PM

    • Thank you Dr Woodruff for being a great example for not only our PT profession, but for all us PT minorities. I express my sympathy and condolence to your family, friends, and colleagues. God bless...

      Posted by Tolupeni Salima -> CJRaBK on 3/30/2018 4:43 AM

    • We have lost a great leader and champion for minority physical therapists and physical therapists assistants. Lynda was a driving force in my career and challenged me as an educator to consider the needs of others of all skin colors, ethnicities, and values. She will be missed. May she rest in peace.

      Posted by Suzanne Robben Brown on 3/30/2018 7:20 AM

    • I work in Lynchburg City Schools, including EC Glass. My regards to all of her family, friends and colleagues who have lost a loved one and a trail blazer.

      Posted by Karen Zylstra, DPT on 3/30/2018 7:52 AM

    • Oh, Lynda. We learned, we shared, we laughed. You remain in my heart.

      Posted by Susan Michlovitz -> CMUb< on 3/30/2018 8:56 AM

    • I am grateful to have been a "Woody Baby". She pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable. Always challenging and questioning paradigms, she was truly a trailblazer! She will be missed. I send my love and regards to her family.

      Posted by Mary An Gracie Moyer, PT, DPT on 3/30/2018 9:12 AM

    • Dr. Woodruff was a champion for many. She pushed others to do better and realize their potential when they did not believe in themselves. If you had the privilege to meet Dr. Woodruff, you did not forget her. Conversations with her were rich in knowledge and thought provoking. She will be missed.

      Posted by Jeanne P. Welch, PT, DPT, NCS on 3/30/2018 9:31 AM

    • My special tribute to Dr. Lynda Woodruff. My mentor, my second Mom, my inspiration. I am proud to be a "Woody baby"Thank you Dr. Woodruff for seeing great potential in me and giving me the push I needed to succeed. I will truly miss you. I thank the good Lord for you. You touched and inspired the lives of many. Love you! Til we meet again! Pamela Bettis, PTA

      Posted by Pamela Bettis on 3/30/2018 8:45 PM

    • What a great Lady of our wonderful profession.Dr.Woodruff was so supportive of me as a clinician and seminar instructor. She was always helpful in offering me advice.We worked together on several projects over the years May the Lord show his wonderful Love and grant peace to the family during this time. God Bless, Terry Trundle PTA,ATC,LAT

      Posted by Terry Trundle on 3/31/2018 11:44 AM

    • Dear Lynda—how much you gave to our profession will be measured for decades. I treasure the journey we share and will always remember your laughter, your standards, and your vision. Thank you and we’ll meet again.

      Posted by Patricia Evans, PhD, PT (Ret) on 4/1/2018 12:26 AM

    • Was so sorry to hear of Lynda's passing. She was a mentor and a friend at Georgia State University and I know that she helped this young man to a career in physical therapy as I was fortunate to have her as my first interviewer when I applied to Georgia State. She was a special individual that inspired her students and challenged us to be consummate professionals and leaders and she was an example to us all. I had not been in contact with Lynda for many years and had the joy to talk to her last month. Even at 70, her zeal for our profession was as strong as ever. She will be sadly missed. Her legacy will follow long after her passing.

      Posted by Roy Adams on 4/2/2018 8:12 PM

    • She was one of a kind. She loved Physical Therapy and all of her Woodie babies 😍 She will truly be missed!

      Posted by Mickey Jones, PT, DPT on 4/3/2018 10:23 PM

    • What a pleasure it was to know her and be in her presence. She was my icon in the physical therapy industry. She always was able to see something in yourself that you could not. Her spirit will live on through her great works and will not be in vain. I will miss her dearly.

      Posted by Miranda White, PT, DPT, MSS, Ed. D on 4/5/2018 2:17 PM

    • Dr. Woodruff was an inspiration to me. She was unique and contributed so much to our profession. I loved spending time with her and talking with her. She will be truly missed.

      Posted by Michelle Boles, DPT on 4/8/2018 10:23 PM

    • I am proud to be a "Woody Baby". She had such passion for our profession. She will be missed!

      Posted by Nicole Whyte, PT, DPT on 4/20/2018 3:09 PM

    • Lynda and I were same-age contemporaries on the faculty at Georgia State. She was a generous and positive soul, ready to help anyone anytime. Beneath that happy exterior was someone with a strong determination to make the world a better place. With a smile, she would sometimes chide me to get out of my comfort zone. I'll never forget her.

      Posted by Paul Andrew, PT, PhD on 4/20/2018 9:10 PM

    • Lynda was a force of nature! Passionate, commanding, an exemplary educator, and most of all she inspired me to be the best therapist and person I could be. She will be missed by everyone who knew her, but if she touched your life... you were changed by her passion.

      Posted by Lisa Misiewicz, PT, DPT on 4/27/2018 3:30 PM

    • I was so grateful to get Lynda to Georgia State to direct our Minority Recruitment and Retention grant.. I wouldn't take anything for my years with Lynda. She was an amazing human being, a warrior for physical therapy and an exemplary educator. I can't imagine our profession without Lynda. I loved her dearly!

      Posted by Pat Yarbrough on 6/10/2018 4:12 PM

    • Lynda, my PT classmate, roommate, bridesmaid, colleague at UNC, and life long friend. We almost made it to 50 years together. So glad I got to celebrate your 70th birthday with you.

      Posted by Jeannie Reiner Senter on 6/29/2018 5:44 PM

    • I am so saddened to hear of Lynda's passing and honored to have known her. She was a very passionate, kind, and tell-it-like it is person. I met Lynda while at SUNY Downstate. Lynda was hired as a consultant for one of our accreditation processes. She gave her all for everything that she did. She was a wonderful role model and mentor and will be sorely missed.

      Posted by Terri Miller on 7/5/2018 9:50 AM

    • My mind fell on Lynda when I was watching the weather report and I saw Dahlonega, she came to my mind. I was saddened to find out that she had passed in March of this year. I met Lynda while a student at GSU in 1979. She was also one of my neighbors in my first apartment in East Point. We shared many laughs even though I was not in the PT department. I am proud to see all of her accomplishments over the years and honored to have known her personally. Rest in Heaven Lynda and you will be missed!

      Posted by Lovetta E. Robinson-Smith on 7/6/2018 4:28 AM

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