OUR FOUNDER, Berneice E. (Bonnie) Truax
The founder of the San Antonio Low Vision Resource Center, Berneice E. (Bonnie) Truax, was born and raised in South Dakota, and graduated from the University of Minnesota. She also studied library science at the University of Miami where she was a teacher and media specialist.
After moving to San Antonio in 1973, Bonnie served as a volunteer at the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures. In 1978 she joined the staff of the Educational Programs Department, and in 1981 was appointed director of the department. She retired from that position in 1992.
In November of 1984, Bonnie was diagnosed with a degenerative vision problem, macular degeneration. In 1995, a more rapid deterioration of vision caused Bonnie to be declared legally blind. At that time she discovered there were no low vision support groups in San Antonio.
Bonnie spent the next year gathering information from support groups in other cities throughout the United States, and began a search for sponsors of a local club. Her efforts resulted in the formation of the San Antonio Low Vision Club. The club is independent from the sponsors, but depends on them for advice and assistance with club meetings and projects.
The first meeting of the club was on January 14, 1997 with a handful of people. Today it has more than 1,000 members and is believed to be the largest organization of its kind in the United States. The club meets monthly. Programs are designed to help people looking for ways to continue their daily activities after experiencing significantly reduced or total vision loss.
In October 2000, Bonnie formed a committee to start a Radio Reading Service in San Antonio. With the co-sponsorship of the San Antonio Express-News and Texas Public Radio, the project, known as Owl Radio, had its grand opening March 2002. The goal is to provide daily readings of the newspaper and other print materials broadcast over a dedicated sub-channel of the radio station.
More than 100 volunteers service the project under the direction of a staff Executive Director, with approximately 1,500 radios now in use. Owl Radio broadcasts also can be heard on pillow speakers at two San Antonio hospitals.
Later both activities were grouped together under the name of the Low Vision Resource Center governed by a revised Board of Directors. It is a Texas Non-Profit Organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Bonnie served as Founder and Chief Executive Officer, and was recognized for her efforts by The Senate of Texas in Proclamation No. 1281.
Bonnie died August 13, 2009 at the age of 84. A memorial celebration of Bonnie's life was held on September 12, 2009 at the Pearl Stable. In lieu of flowers, it was asked that memorial donations be mailed to the Low Vision Resource Center, 11510 Sandman Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78216.