WANDA WOODARD DE GRAFFENRIED
Wanda Woodard de Graffenried died peacefully in her sleep on April 14, 2017. Those of us who were fortunate to have known her will remember her sharp mind, loyal friendship, devoted advocacy, and artistic and culinary skills. She had a tremendous love for animals, particularly dogs and cats; any stray in need of food and medical care knew where to take up residence.
The daughter of Ira Hubbard Woodard and Pearl Hoven Woodard, and sister of Barbara, Wanda grew up in Marlin, Texas, where she excelled in Latin, history, golf, and band. Wanda graduated from Marlin High School and attended Baylor University where she earned a degree in Education and Latin. At Baylor, she was a member of Delta Alpha Pi (now Kappa Alpha Theta sorority). She moved to Houston after graduation and began her teaching career at Cleveland Elementary; she later taught at Spring Branch Elementary, and River Oaks Baptist School before moving with her husband, Dixon, and daughter, Jenna, to College Station, Texas in 1984.
Wanda found her professional calling in the field of dyslexia therapy. She earned her certification at the Neuhaus Center in Houston and opened her practice in College Station where, for years, she was the only certified dyslexia therapist in the Brazos Valley. She led teacher training workshops and was active in literacy organizations in Bryan-College Station. Wanda returned home to Houston in 1999 and again established a busy practice. She relished this time in her life in the city she loved most, renewing old friendships and weekly bridge games; Sunday mornings at her beloved St. Luke’s Methodist Church, and afternoons spent gardening. She enjoyed participating in workshops at the Neuhaus Center, and valued her colleagues and her membership in the Academic Language Therapy Association. In her 28 years as a certified academic language therapist she helped countless students overcome dyslexia and achieve their academic goals. She had a special rapport with children, young adults, and their parents who considered her the key to their children’s academic achievement. For Wanda, there was no greater compliment.
Wanda joined her daughter in Austin in 2013, and briefly continued her dyslexia therapy practice before the effects of Alzheimer’s began to affect her life. Through all the changes, her sense of humor and independent spirit remained. Her rapier wit and unwillingness to suffer fools was ever-present and was (almost always) appreciated by her devoted caregivers, friends, and family. Wanda de Graffenried was a character in the best sense of the word. Most importantly, she was an amazing mother.
She is survived by her daughter, Jenna, and nephews Scott and Brad Harper, all of Austin, and the many friends she touched over the years. A celebration of her life was held Thursday, April 27, at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd., Houston, Texas. Donations may be made in her name to the Neuhaus Center, Houston SPCA, or Austin Pets Alive.