Local Family Serves the Region for Almost 100 Years and Creates a Lasting Legacy at LFCC

For Immediate Release:
August 23, 2006

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

MIDDLETOWN, Va. – The Dalke family has lived in the Shenandoah Valley for nearly a century. Throughout the years, the Dalke family has entertained area residents, donated their time and money in service to the community and been a source of economic constancy in the region by operating one of the oldest family-owned theatre businesses in the country.

The Dalke family’s most recent contribution to the community is the donation of over $100,000 to the Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) Educational Foundation Inc. to establish the William F. Dalke Jr. Endowed Scholarship to benefit Shenandoah County Public School graduates.

Humble Beginnings

In 1908, William Dalke Sr. immigrated to the United States from West Prussia. Upon settling in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas, he became involved in the movie industry by working in silent movie theatres. Just four years later in 1912, he moved to Woodstock and opened movie theatres in Edinburg, Mount Jackson, New Market, Strasburg and Woodstock.

Many years later, after leaving the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, William Dalke Jr. joined his father in the family business and made a mark on the area when he opened the Family Drive-In Theatre south of Stephens City in 1956. Dalke Jr. had four sons of his own. Bill, Tim, Jeff and Peter grew up working in the family business. At the age of 12, each son took on various responsibilities of running the theatres, from scraping gum off the floor to selling tickets and once they were older, serving as evening managers. By working in the family-run theatres through college, they were able to help pay for their education.

Importance of an Education

The Dalke brothers’ parents made sure their boys knew the value of an education. Their father graduated from Woodstock High School but did not pursue any further education. Their mother, Kathryn Shaffer Dalke, graduated from high school and attended Madison College for two years but never completed a degree. Beyond their own family, Dalke Jr. and his wife believed in making college education opportunities available as a part of bringing success to individuals and the community.

“Our parents were strong-minded when it came to their sons getting a college education,” Tim said. “All four of us brothers were fortunate to obtain an education and also educate our children. We want to provide that same opportunity to others.”

Between the four brothers, they collectively hold one associate’s degree, four bachelor’s degrees, three master’s degrees and one juris doctor degree. After completing their college educations, each brother launched into a successful career. Bill, 61, resides in Whitefield, Maine, and retired in January 2006 from his work as a minister for the United Church of Christ. “I’ve retired from the ministry but not from life,” Bill said.

Bill also served as a conference minister for seven years in the Rocky Mountain Conference in Colorado. “I have an interest and love for people,” Bill said. “As a minister, I enjoyed talking with people about all aspects in life, helping them through the difficult times and celebrating the good times.”

Tim, 59, resides in Woodstock and operates the Family Drive-In Theatre from May to September each year. After completing college and serving in Vietnam for two years, Tim joined the family business. “I always had an interest in the family business, and when my father needed some help, it seemed like a good time to take over,” said Tim, who is semi-retired after recently selling the family-owned Community Theatre in Woodstock.

In addition to running the family business, Tim served in local government for 17 years, from 1978-95. He served as a member of the Woodstock Town Council and then as mayor of Woodstock. “I’ve always had an interest in the community and making the area a better place to live.”

Jeff, 55, lives in Wayne, Pa., where he is a partner in the Philadelphia law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Jeff has been practicing securities law for the past 26 years.

Peter, 49, has lived in Portland, Ore., for the past 18 years and serves the public by working to improve the environment. As a project director for the Department of Environmental Quality for the state of Oregon, Peter works to bring together individuals and organizations in the public, private and non-profit sectors to accomplish various environmental projects. One recent project involved securing public and private land to build a trail to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Meriwether Lewis and William Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean. Other projects include working to provide electrical hookups at truck stops in Oregon so that truckers can plug in their rigs to power their air conditioning, heat and other amenities without running their engines. This will save on gas and reduce emissions.

“Growing up in the Shenandoah Valley, I always had a strong interest in the environment,” Peter said. “I also grew up with a business mind. My job allows me to work with businesses to better the environment.”

A Lasting Legacy

In memory of their father’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to education, each year since 1993, the Dalke family has provided a Central High School graduate with a two-year scholarship to attend LFCC. This year, in honor of their father and the 50th anniversary of the Family Drive-In Theatre, the Dalke brothers decided to endow a scholarship through the LFCC Educational Foundation that will benefit students in perpetuity and ensure their father’s legacy.

“We all believe that financial need should not be a hindrance if someone wants to pursue an education. By establishing this scholarship, a few of the approximately 200 students who didn’t receive LFCC scholarships last year will now be able to attend the College,” Bill said. “A college education is not just for intellectual gain but for economic stability.”

“Our parents instilled in us a value for education and a sense of service to others,” Peter said. “We are fortunate to be in a position to give back to individuals in Shenandoah County that don’t have the resources to obtain a college education.”

The Dalke brothers hope that their contribution will inspire other individuals and/or businesses to support LFCC and the area’s future workforce. Without scholarships, many potential and current LFCC students are unable to pursue an education. For example, during the 2005-06 academic year, 57 Shenandoah County students applied for LFCC scholarships, but less than half, only 27, received scholarships.

“It is very possible that this need has not crossed people’s minds,” Bill said. “We hope to share with others the importance of providing scholarships to worthy students in need of assistance.”

Individuals interested in donating to the William F. Dalke Jr. Endowed Scholarship may make checks payable to “LFCC Educational Foundation,” write the name of the fund on the memo line and mail the checks to the LFCC Educational Foundation Inc., 173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown, VA 22645-1745.

Individuals or organizations that wish to establish their own scholarship fund may do so by contacting Linnie Carter, vice president of college advancement at LFCC and executive director of the LFCC Educational Foundation Inc., at (540) 868-4077 or [email protected].


Founded in 1970, Lord Fairfax Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. LFCC offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. LFCC also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. LFCC serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Lord Fairfax Community College. Lord Fairfax Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. LFCC also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.