PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas January February 2022

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 113 of 115

T his month's Bomb, Wendy Payne, is a girl after my own heart, given her trove of pics from the 1980s (that is my decade when it comes to music, movies, and fashion). She also has a massive heart, rivaling many passionate volunteers and community leaders when it comes to the charity she helped found, The Rise School. Raised in Houston, Wendy attended Stratford High School, and, like me, the friends she has from high school are still her closest, but she also gained some dear friends in college at University of Texas Austin. On our recent visit, she had many '80s moments to share. My favorite was that of her first car: a metallic lime-green Camaro with pinstriping. And on the pinstriping? Well, of course, her monogram, but with a twist: W2. W squared being the initials for Wendy Ward. The music playing in that car when she was carting around girlfriends, she admits, was likely AC/DC, which was usually found in her 8-track player. When asked her major at UT, she shares, "I started off in business and ended up in nutrition. I was also interested in fashion, so I went to Parsons School of Design one summer in the Dominican Republic — to dabble. Upon graduating, I moved back to Houston, where I went to work at Sakowitz as a personal shopper." She confesses to using her store discount and buying massively from the famed bastion of fashion. But her first big adult purchase? "A plane ticket. I'm not even sure to where. I wanted to travel. I had wanderlust." Her life has been filled with extended families. She has one brother, a stepbrother, and a stepsister. When she married Bill Payne (they're nearing their seventh wedding anniversary but have been together nine years), she brought three children to the mix: her first-born son, Blake, and twins Michael and Margot. Bill had two children, Katie and Whit. In 1991, Wendy and her first husband moved to Dallas, where the twins were born — Michael with Down Syndrome, his sister without. Knowing they needed to do something to assist his development, they began researching. "We heard about a school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama affiliated with the university," she said. "We went and found it to be such a happy place." It inspired them to begin fundraising, when Michael was three, to start something similar in Dallas. Soon they launched a small program with eight kids in a library in a church. "The point is to overly prepare kids like Michael, since between birth and five years old, so much learning takes place — which is their academic and developmental foundation. It was important to have an integrated group of students [Margot also attended the program], and since our friends saw how Margot was thriving, many enrolled their kids that did not have special needs." Before they knew it, they had 50 children enrolled, so the church gave them access to more classrooms. Eventually growing out of their space, they joined forces with the YMCA and are part of that campus on Preston and known as the Ashford Rise School. A big part of raising funds for the school is the Touchdown Club, which focuses on getting young men, perhaps new to their careers, interested and involved with a charity. Her son Blake is a proud part of that group. Wendy's parents, Brenda and John Duncan, founded the John and Brenda Duncan Rise School in Houston. Wendy and Bill are still part of the Rise family, but their charity work also spreads to educational organizations including Teach for America, The Commit Partnership, and several public and private schools, from kindergarten through universities. It was hard for me not to shed a tear of happiness, hearing all that she shared with me. Hers is a life that's had some bumps, but one where love and innovation have created programs from which others benefit. Approximate date of the photo. May 1985. The occasion. My Neon Night-themed deb party. Who you were wearing. Arnold Scaasi. What price fashion. I don't put a price on fashion. I think you should wear whatever feels good. Why this is a picture. The dress says it all — fun and happy — which sums up that evening. SHE'S THE BOMB WENDY PAYNE B Y B I L L Y F O N G Wendy Payne, 1985 112

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - PaperCity Dallas January February 2022