94-Year-Old Lucy Wolfe Volunteers in Hospices—in Ohio and Florida

Lucy Wolfe

By Larry Kinneer, State of the Heart Hospice

Two days after Christmas, State of the Heart Hospice volunteer Lucy Wolfe packs her bags and heads from Greenville, Ohio to Titusville, Florida until May, escaping the snows and cold Ohio weather.  A volunteer for State of the Heart for 16 years, the 94-year-old volunteer then resumes her volunteering for Hospice of St. Francis where she has helped for the past 10 years.

“It is great to have a little piece of her time,” states St. Francis volunteer coordinator Vicky Hamilton. “She gives back to society so much, and she is so consistent. She shows up like clockwork after Christmas.”  Hospice cares for patients and families confronting a life limiting illness.

Volunteering, though, is a way of life for Wolfe.  “I keep busy with volunteering for Wayne Hospital (a volunteer the past 28 years) Red Cross (where she has been honored for her volunteering), my church and the VFW (where she has been honored for volunteering 1,500 hours).”

“I think I would lose my mind if I had nothing to do but just sit,” she says. “There are a lot of people who work all their life, retire and die.  There is so much that needs to be done through volunteering. I sit with patients and give their caregivers a break, and I sit with patients who are dying.  There are many who have no one to be with them then.”  Wolfe is a big advocate of “visiting residents of nursing homes.  Just stopping by to say hello often makes a person’s day.”

Sitting with patients is something which Wolfe likes to do.  Her grandmother, she explains, was ill much of her life and Wolfe took care of her. Then, she later cared for a cousin who was ill.  Sitting with patients and visiting those who are in nursing homes or who are ill is a natural extension of her care giving.

Her link with State of the Heart Hospice began after her husband passed away in 1994.  “He was a patient for just a short time,” she explains, “but the care from hospice was wonderful. I decided right then and there that it was payback time and I would volunteer for hospice.” 

“Volunteering is part of Lucy’s life philosophy,” states Pauline Faller, volunteer coordinator for State of the Heart.  “At 94, she is a remarkable person. She has such enthusiasm and is always optimistic.  She does a wonderful job with our patients and is very intuitive about the patient and if their condition is changing.   We miss her when she is gone.”

After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast area, Wolfe spent three weeks in Key West with the Red Cross helping to open five shelters where those who lost their homes could find shelter, clothing and medication.  “They gave a party for me as I was 90 and the oldest volunteer there,” she says.

Once she is settled into her apartment in Titusville, she will go to the Hospice of St. Francis office and learn which patients need her visits.  “I do the same thing for them as I do in Greenville.  I also do some volunteering at church there.”

But all of her time is not spent volunteering.  When in Ohio, she drives herself to Oxford where she has season tickets to the Miami University football games. And, in Titusville, she makes a point to watch all of the lift offs of the space shuttles.  “I think I have seen about 15 of the space lift-offs,” she said.

Asked if longevity runs in her family, Wolfe said it did not.  “I feel blessed that I have good health and can visit and be with people who need someone.”