By Angela Higginbotham
For many years, Elizabeth Wolfe has been a bright spot, not only in her own neighborhood, but all over the Jacksonville area. As an activist and volunteer, Wolfe has served in numerous organizations, always eager to contribute and donate her time freely. Wolfe’s efforts have not gone unnoticed within the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Advisory Council, the Mandarin Community Club, the Riverside Garden Club, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the La Di Da Red Hat Ladies, and the Pickwick Park Civic Association. Wolfe spends much of her time contributing to the Pickwick membership drive.
Wolfe has served as president of the Pickwick Park Civic Association since 1987 and was a major lobbyist for the park. To honor Wolfe’s commitment to Pickwick Park, former City Councilman Jack Webb introduced an ordinance to have the park renamed after Wolfe. In 2011, the Pickwick Park name changed to Elizabeth “Betty” Wolfe Park.
The beautiful public park, complete with a playground and rock climbing for kids, gazebos, a paved trail and several LifeTrail outdoor fitness stations, is open from dawn to dusk. Access to the park is located at 3320 Chrysler Drive.
In 2011, Wolfe was also honored with the seventh annual Miss Aggie Award. This award honors a female Mandarin resident who has greatly contributed to the community in areas of business, educational, civic or charitable accomplishments.
Q: Elizabeth “Betty” Wolfe Park is a beautiful place for citizens to come relax, play or exercise. How does it make you feel knowing that you were such a huge part of making this park a reality?
It took a very long time, but after a lot of hard work from a whole lot of people, we finally have a nice place for citizens to enjoy. Before the park was complete, drivers went too fast on this road and it just wasn’t safe for the kids. It’s a pleasure to see people coming to use the park for their enjoyment. From my backyard, I can hear the kids playing and it’s such a joy.
Q: You are known for your giving spirit and devotion to community. What do you enjoy most about the Mandarin neighborhood in which you live?
The people. I started working for CSX in 1964 and I transferred to Jacksonville in 1986. I only spent three days searching for a house and I picked a great neighborhood. I’ve been passionate about this community since the day I moved here.
Q: You’ve spent many years devoting your time to various clubs and organizations around the city, including with the Supervisor of Elections office, as both a poll volunteer and as a precinct manager. Was there ever a time when you considered running for an office yourself?
Oh, no. It’s very expensive, and so disappointing when things don’t turn out like you hope for. Years ago you needed to be 21 years old to vote, and my dad made my sisters and me register when we were of age. I’ve always enjoyed volunteering with various campaigns and events, but I’ve never been interested in running for an office myself. I’m actually shy. Growing up I always let my sisters do all the talking.
Q: What activities do you enjoy most when you aren’t volunteering your time for others in the community?
I love my family and my neighbors. I love to garden, I’m a member of the Mandarin Garden Club. My dad had a big garden when I was growing up in Huntington, W.Va. Half of it was vegetables and the other half were flowers. Spending time volunteering is also my hobby. My friends and family inspire me to stay active and I do stay busy. People will ask me where I was last night, and I’ll say, where was I supposed to be?
Q: If you could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Definitely, chocolate. I love chocolate. I would want steak too, though.
Photo by Angela Higginbotham
Elizabeth “Betty” Wolfe