By Juliett Coulter
As the longest-tenured docent and one of the founding volunteers of the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Kay Sansone has seen it all. From the wedding of President Clinton’s brother, Roger, to the wedding of her own granddaughter, Sansone said, “It’s always the place I want to be!”
Sansone (pictured at right) was a member of the very first class of docents in 1978-79, five years before Dallas Blooms came to be. “The first Dallas Blooms wasn’t as big of a deal then as it is now,” she said, “but it was still an absolutely incredible site to see.”
For her 40 years of service, Sansone has volunteered more than 12,000 hours, and she recently received a “Special Volunteer Award for Service and Dedication” from the Dallas Arboretum. She has been dedicated to the DeGolyer House and the Dallas Arboretum for all these years.
As a resident of East Dallas, visiting the Arboretum comes as second nature to Sansone. Every Thursday for the past 40 years, Sansone has shown up ready to volunteer. “Training at the Arboretum was so good and so involved,” she said. “I love the people and meeting the public. You get to talk to people from everywhere — all around the world. It’s very special to me; and of course, I’m always happy to be around so much beauty.”
Shawn Jackson, Dallas Arboretum’s director of volunteer services and community outreach, said: “When you are around Kay you can’t help but laugh and be happy. Her sense of humor is priceless, she is witty and charismatic which makes her the best kind volunteer. There isn’t a staff person, volunteer or guest who does not love Kay and all her wonderful characteristics. We are truly blessed to have her as a volunteer here at the Dallas Arboretum.”
Throughout the years, Sansone recalls some distinctively “Dallas” moments taking place at the Arboretum. For instance, part of the original “Dallas” television show was filmed on site and several of the actors and actresses, such as Linda Gray, signed the docent book kept out front.
Sansone also remembers the time Stanley Marcus came out to dedicate a garden. “It’s such a unique place,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you want to be out there? It’s so beautiful!”
Sansone doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. “I hope the Arboretum keeps progressing and remains the special experience that it has been for so many years. It’s where I want to be.”
For those who would like more information about volunteering, please contact the Dallas Arboretum volunteer office at 214-515-6561, [email protected] or dallasarboretum.org/support-volunteer/volunteer.