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Helen Farabee Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship

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The Farabee family outside of the Texas Capitol.
The Farabee family outside of the Texas Capitol.

The Helen Farabee Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Mrs. Helen Farabee, the deceased wife of University of Texas System Vice Chancellor Ray Farabee. Mrs. Farabee, a former assistant dean of women at The University of Texas at Austin, devoted her life to the improvement of health and human services in Texas and the nation. Her numerous volunteer positions included serving as chair of the Special Senate Committee on Delivery of Human Services in Texas from 1978 to 1981, and her many awards were capped by her induction into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1985.

Helen Farabee
Helen Farabee

Helen Farabee graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1957, where she was student body president. Through her travels in student government, she met Ray, the president of the student body at UT.  She worked for Better Homes & Gardens magazine before the couple wed on December 6, 1958. While her husband served in the United States Air Force, Helen worked for the Dallas Times-Herald. She held the assistant dean of women position at UT and worked with the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health while Ray completed his law degree at the University. In Wichita Falls, Texas, Helen became a leader in local, state, and national mental health organizations, programs, and human services. She is the mother of two sons, Steven and David Farabee.

Helen served on numerous special commissions in Texas and headed the State Mental Health Code Task Force from 1981 to 1983, which revised the 1957 Texas mental health code. Democratic Governor Mark Wells White signed the new laws, which Ray introduced to state senate legislation, into law in 1983. The Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR) Centers in Wichita Falls and various other cities in Northwest Texas are named for Helen in recognition of her monumental work for better MHMR services.

Family and friends contributed funds to create and continue the Helen Farabee Memorial Endowed Presidential Scholarship fund in memory of and appreciation for her leadership and tireless efforts to improve Texas mental health and human services programs during her life. The endowment provides scholarships each year to three outstanding graduate students enrolled in the School of Social Work.

From The Handbook of Texas Online:

Helen Farabee served on numerous special commissions and planning groups for human services in Texas. She chaired the State Mental Health Code Task Force (1981-83), which culminated its work in the revision of the 1957 Texas mental health code. In addition to her work on mental health, she served on the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, worked for improved childcare, and addressed better services for the elderly through the Special Senate Committee on the Delivery of Human Services [as chairperson]. Her work [as chairperson] on the Governor’s Task Force on Indigent Health Care (1983-1985) resulted in landmark state legislation in 1985 that expanded medical care for the poor.

From former Governor Ann Richards, state treasurer at the time, speaking at the memorial service for Helen Farabee on August 1, 1988:

Helen’s life was about doing … and, in all those projects she undertook, she sought people like me to work with her, to learn from her, to share her passion for doing the right thing for the right reasons in the right way.

And after the projects ended, she kept up with us, nurtured our interests and our dreams, helped us build a foundation, pushed us to be all that we could be. She often said that “leadership is the ability to empower others.”

Helen knew, I think, that her work would always be unfinished … and so she did her best to bring more hands to the task … and more minds to the challenge.

We will, in our turn, reach back and bring others along and share what Helen taught.

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