2 Wichita Falls women to be inducted into Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Gov. Greg Abbott and the Governor’s Commission for Women Monday announced six Texas women, including two from Wichita Falls, have been selected for induction into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.

Charlye Ola Farris and Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell (Ret.), USAF were among the six women selected for induction.

“The Texas Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates remarkable Texas women not only for their individual achievements but also for their contributions to an even stronger Texas of tomorrow, and I am honored to welcome these six accomplished women as inductees,” Gov. Abbott said.

The full list of future inductees can be found below:

  • Lauren Anderson (Arts) – In recognition of her boundary breaking and distinguished artistic achievements in the world of ballet and her generosity in inspiring children to reach for the stars.
  • Charlye Ola Farris (Legal Profession) – In recognition of her pioneering role and 56 years in the legal profession paving the way for others by overcoming adversity with dignity and perseverance.
  • Dawn Ferrell, Major General (Ret.), USAF (Military Service) – In recognition of her exemplary leadership and significant contributions to our state and nation in both military service and higher education.
  • Kendra Scott (Business) – In recognition of her extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit, remarkable business leadership, and passionate philanthropy in support of women and children’s causes.
  • Elaine Stolte (Community Service) – In recognition of her decades of service and national leadership as a tireless advocate, bringing healing and giving a voice to children who are survivors of sexual abuse.
  • Ofelia Vasquez-Philo (Civic Leadership) – In recognition of her legacy of community service and trailblazing leadership in support of civil rights and the preservation of Hispanic arts, culture, and heritage.

The selection of these six women recognizes their outstanding achievements in their fields and for changing the course of history.

“Each of the honorees is recognized as a trailblazer, an inspiration for the next generation of leaders who will follow in their footsteps in business, education, military service, philanthropy, public service, the arts, and more,” Gov. Abbott said. “The First Lady and I thank each of these distinguished honorees for their leadership and enduring contributions to this great state.”

The 2020–2021 Texas Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, hosted by Gov. Abbott and First Lady Cecilia Abbott, will be held on November 4, 2021, at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas.

About Charlye Ola Farris

Charlye Ola Farris was born on June 30, 1929 in Wichita Falls to James Randolf Farris, Sr. and Roberta Farris, both public school educators.

Farris graduated as valedictorian of Booker T. Washington High School at age 15. She then went on to Prairie View A&M College in 1948 and earned a degree in political science at just 18 years old.

While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., Farris’ senior class worked on the landmark desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. She earned a degree in law from Howard in 1953.

Upon starting her solo law practice in Wichita Falls, she became the first Black person to actively practice law in Wichita County.

In 1954, Farris was selected to serve as county judge pro-tem, making her the first Black person to serve as a judge in the South since Reconstruction.

Perhaps Farris’ greatest accomplishment was serving on the Board of Regents of Midwestern State University, where she was not permitted to attend earlier as a student due to her race.

Farris passed away in 2010, and the next year, the City of Wichita Falls erected a Historical Marker in her honor next to the courthouse.

About Ret. Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrell, USAF

Maj. Gen. Dawn Ferrel was the Assistant Adjunct General – Air for the Texas National Guard, where she served as the principal advisor to the Adjutant General of Texas for all Air National Guard issues.

She was responsible for formulating, developing, and coordinating all programs, policies, and plans for three Wings and more than 3,300 Air National Guard personnel throughout the state of Texas.

General Ferrell was Dual Status Commander certified and was a Level III Joint Qualified Officer.

General Ferrell earned her bachelor’s degree in social science in 1988 and her master’s of the arts degree in rehabilitation counseling in 1996 from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. She also earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in Denton.

Prior to working full time with the Texas Air National Guard, General Ferrell was the Director of Institutional Research and Planning and the Accreditation Liaison at Vernon College. General Ferrell also served as an adjunct instructor for Vernon College and Wayland Baptist University, teaching political science courses.

General Ferrell has received over 20 medals during her service, served multiple deployments in Afghanistan, and was promoted to Major General in 2018 until her retirement in 2021.

About the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame

Established in 1984 by the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women, the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes the achievements of Texas women nominated biennially by Texans and selected by an independent panel of judges.

Inductees include former First Ladies, astronauts, entrepreneurs, public servants, Olympic athletes, and other women of significant accomplishment.

A permanent exhibit is housed at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas, and currently features the biographies and photographs of all recipients.

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