Lois Combs Weinberg ’65 talks with Katie West-Hazelwood ’13.
Lois Combs Weinberg ’65 remembers the worry that consumed her when she first realized that her oldest son could not read. After his dyslexia diagnosis at the age of 9, Lois turned that concern into a pursuit of knowledge and training that would allow her to help him and thousands of others with the same condition.
That passion led to educational programs across Kentucky, a campaign for the U.S. Senate, and bipartisan legislation to ensure students dealing with dyslexia have the services they need.
“My inspiration started out as desperation, and now it’s the children, and watching what happens as they grow and become the young people they can be,” Lois said while visiting the College in September, when she was honored with an Alumnae Achievement Award.
After graduating from R-MWC, Lois worked in several service and community development positions in the Appalachian Mountains, Washington, D.C., and Lynchburg. She married Bill Weinberg, and eventually returned to her home state of Kentucky.
After her son’s diagnosis, Lois found other parents whose children were struggling to read and formed a group in her community that received training to teach reading and writing to children with learning challenges. Their efforts led to an after-school program, a summer camp, and eventually, a full-time school. Their programs have been replicated in other communities around Kentucky.
This year, Lois was also instrumental in convincing the Kentucky legislature to pass a bill requiring schools to detect dyslexia and intervene with programs to help students diagnosed with the condition.
Alumnae Achievement Award winner Lois Combs Weinberg ’65 with her family.
Her life’s work is no surprise to those who knew her well when she was at R-MWC. “In work and in life, Lois has always had a consistent theme of compassion,” said Lyn McWhirter Fraser ’65. “She finds ways to serve others and to help concretely.”
“Even in college, Lois was mature beyond her years and saw that everyone needs a purposeful path,” added Martha Anne Reed Ellis ’65. “She had a love for the less fortunate.” Lois gives credit to the education she received and the friends she made at R-MWC. That College family enriched her life and inspired her to make a commitment to service.
“They were women,” she said, “who thought like I did about life values, relationships, and embracing a purpose.”