EXTRA, EXTRA – Read all about her!
by Donna Parker
Lissa Walls Vahldiek ’80 isn’t from Texas, but as the saying goes, “she got here as fast as she could!” And, to borrow another expression, “that’s a good thing.” This enterprising woman who chairs the Trinity Board of Trustees is also the vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Newspapers Inc., a Houston-based chain that publishes 16 papers from northern Alabama to Paris, Texas.
When she’s not overseeing all the news that’s fit to print or handling University affairs, you’ll find Lissa outside, hunting with bird dogs, Angus and Sally…or traveling to France with the Board of the Associated Press…or fishing at the ranch… or – well, you get the picture.
The best advice this Renaissance woman ever received was from her dad, B. Carmage Walls, the founder of Southern Newspapers, who told his daughter “not to major in journalism” but to branch out a little. She settled on a sociology degree under the tutelage of Professor O.Z. White, whom she terms the “Godfather of Sociology.”
“He surpassed the academic side by exposing his students to life outside the classroom,” says Walls, who continues, “He made you think in ways you didn’t think you could.”
She certainly continues to think outside the box and to make clear, rational decisions in record time! For example, she knew she’d marry Paul Vahldiek a scant three weeks after a Trinity friend fixed them up on a blind date.
They didn’t know each other while in school, but they had so many mutual friends that she says, “Getting to know him was almost shorthand.” At their Houston engagement party, almost all of the 15 invited couples had Trinity connections – most of them alumni.
Connections matter very much she says, reminding today’s college students to “value family and value friendship.”
And she wisely adds, “Try to understand the concept of knowing what you don’t know.”
Insightful words from this steel magnolia once voted Texas Newspaper Leader of the Year. But the real scoop? Lissa is a southern belle bestowed with style, grace, and a sense of pride in the remarkable Trinity graduates that provide her with “the opportunity to make and keep wonderful people in my life.”