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Margery Wolf, 95, Civic Activist, Humanitarian
Margery Stern Wolf, 95, whose extensive communal experience and achievements still left time for her leisurely pursuits of gardening, golf, travel and collecting artifacts, died Nov. 4.
The Goucher College graduate, class of ’37, pursued life with a passion that encompassed many civic concerns as she moved from Philadelphia to Wyncote to Huntingdon Valley.
A decades-long trustee of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, she served on the executive committee of the local United Way, also chairing its Montgomery-Chester Counties campaign. She was active on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for a number of years as well as the board of the Rebecca Gratz Club.
She funded and curated the Fred Wolf, Jr. Gallery in honor of her late husband, at the Klein JCC. Indeed, notes her son, John, both his parents enjoyed an unusually strong bond, a true partnership in their endeavors and perspectives, also reflected in her commitment to the gallery.
Speaking at shiva services held for his mother, John offered this anecdote that typified his Mrs. Wolf’s hold on people: “At the cemetery the other day, there was a gentleman standing off to the side — he was Mom’s computer trainer — he said she wasn’t really keen on computers, but she had a profoundly engaging personality and that’s why he wanted to be there.
“This special loyalty I found from everyone who came in contact with our mother.”
Mrs. Wolf also served as president of the Jenkintown Day Nursery from 1973-75. Her national positions numbered the board of the National Council of Jewish Women. In that capacity she paid a 1963 visit to the White House, included in a group sent to advise President Kennedy on Jewish issues. She also had a vision of the needs for urban Philadelphia, organizing and curating Philadelphia Art Within Touch, a project targeting elementary school students with limited cultural outlets and allowing them to be up- close and personal with art, often shepherded to schools by Wolf herself.
Her passions for gardening and golf were well known within her circle, which included Philmont County Club’s intra-city women’s team. She indeed was an ace on the greens, scoring two holes-in-one.
Mrs. Wolf enjoyed her travels throughout the city, but wasn’t’‘t contained to its borders. Her international sojourns included the Galapagos Islands and Malaysia, which afforded a sense of home since her son John was at the time its United States ambassador.
Those sites were only two stops along her 60-country lifetime itinerary.
Although she was also known for collecting artifacts, her life was no museum piece, as friends marveled at her energy and get-up-and go approach to life, which earned her a truckload of honors and awards.
Millie Elverson, a member of the board of Jenkintown Day Nursery, has been quoted as calling her “extraordinary; she was my mentor.” Mary Donaldson, president of Art Goes to School, has hailed her as a pioneer.
If life was big for Mrs. Wolf, it was never cause for being ostentatious. She also wanted to share its largesse with those she loved and cared for. Nowhere is this better examplified than in her son John's remembrance: "When she traveled – often she usually left with just a small green carry-on size bag. But when she’d return, there’d be new things, art, and jewelry, and clothes. These things never screamed out on their own — they always were just right, and just so … Margery."
In addition to her son, John, she is survived by son Fred Wolf III; four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Donations in Mrs. Wolf’s name may be made to the Jenkintown Day Nursery, 796 Baeder Rd., Jenkintown, Pa. 19046.