Hazel Wolf

Photo of Hazel Wolf kayaking in autumnHazel Wolf was the catalyst that started Whidbey Audubon, as well as many other conservation programs. When she died early in 2000, her passing was noted by people whose lives she had touched around the world. These two articles were posted at a personal web page and are preserved here in case that web page disappears. (Photo from Seattle Post Intelligencer website.)


NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY MOURNS THE DEATH OF HAZEL WOLF

January 21, 2000 New York, NY -- The National Audubon Society today mourns the passing of Hazel Wolf. A 101-year-old crusader for Audubon, Wolf died Wednesday night in Port Angeles, Washington. During her long life, she inspired thousands with her wit, drive, and dedication to the environment.

"The entire Audubon family is saddened by the loss of Hazel Wolf," said John Flicker, President of the National Audubon Society. "Our grief is tempered only by the fact that Hazel's life was so full of joy and accomplishment. She was an inspiration to all of us who knew her. She challenged us to be better conservationists and better human beings. She will be greatly missed."

"Through her hard work and her force of personality, Hazel Wolf made a lasting impression on the Audubon movement," said National Audubon Society Chairman of the Board Donal O'Brien. "No one did more than she on behalf of the environment. She represents the very best in Audubon. We now have a responsibility to continue her important work."

Wolf played a prominent role in environmental efforts on local, national and international levels. Wolf not only co-founded of the Seattle Audubon Society, she worked there as a secretary for 37 years. She organized 21 of the 26 Audubon chapters in the region, including the Black Hills Audubon Society in Olympia.

Wolf was born on March 10, 1898, in Victoria, British Columbia, and moved to Seattle in 1923.

She was the recipient of a number of other conservation awards, including the Audubon Medal, for Excellence in Environmental Achievement (1977). She also received the Washington State Department of Game's Award for services in protection of wildlife (1978); the State of Washington Environmental Excellence Award (1978); State University of New York's Sol Feinstein Award for her work with Seattle Audubon's "Trailside Series" of books on the Northwest; the National Audubon Society's Conservationist of the Year Award (1978); the Association of Biologists and Ecologists of Nicaragua's Award for nature conservation (1988); the People's Daily World's Newsmaker Award; the Washington State Legislature Award for environmental work and the Women in Communications group bestowed her with their top honor, the Matrix Award for Women of Achievement.

Wolf was the past president of the Federation of Outdoor Clubs and was editor of its magazine Outdoor West, at the time of her death. She was member of not only of the National Audubon Society (since before 1962) but also is a member of the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Earth Island Institute. Her endeavors to improve environmental safety in low income inner-city housing was done through the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice which she also co-founded.

During the Depression, employed by the Works Project Administration, Wolf set about unionizing workers. In 1979, she helped organize the Indian Conservationist Conference. In 1990, Wolf met a Soviet delegation and held discussions that paved the way for the founding of the Leningrad Audubon Society in Russia. Like former President Jimmy Carter and Senator Dan Evans (Washington), she was sent as an observer to the 1990 Nicaraguan elections.

Author Studs Terkel portayed Wolf in his book, Coming of Age. She told Terkel that living three centuries was one of her goals. "Then, I'm going," she said. Wolf took the fifty dollars that she was paid for the interview and signed Terkel up as a National Audubon Society member.

In 1996, on her 98th birthday, Washington State Governor Mike Lowery declared March 10th as "Hazel Wolf Day." In June of this year, Seattle University conferred upon her a doctorate in humanities, honoris causa.

She is survived by her daughter, Nydia Levick of Port Angeles, five grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 3p.m. February 11 at Seattle's Town Hall.

The family requests donations in her memory be sent to the Kids for the Environment Fund, created in Mrs. Wolf's honor on her 100th birthday. Contributions may be mailed to the Seattle Audubon Society, 80560 35th Ave. N.E., Seattle, WA 98115.

Founded in 1905 and supported by 550,000 members distributed in 518 chapters nationwide, the National Audubon Society conserves and restores natural ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity.

MEDIA CONTACT: John Bianchi jbianchi@audubon.org 212/979-3026

 


And here is the Associated Press story in text:

By MICHAEL J. MARTINEZ

SEATTLE, Jan 21 (AP) -- Born in the 19th century, longtime environmental activist Hazel Wolf realized her dream of living to see the 21st.

Wolf, who helped found 21 of the 26 of the Audubon Society chapters in the Pacific Northwest, died Wednesday night a few hours after being admitted to a nursing home in Port Angeles, said Chris Peterson, executive director of the Seattle Audubon Society. She was 101.

Wolf, a former Communist Party member who fought for women's suffrage in her youth, had been living with her daughter on the Olympic Peninsula.

In her annual Christmas letter to friends last fall, she said only a broken hip kept her from joining in street demonstrations in which more than 500 people were arrested during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle last fall.

"Remember how Gandhi said, 'Be the change you want to see in the world?' She did that," Peterson said. "She was so affirmative. She touched a lot of people, and any person that she touched felt a connection with her."

Author Studs Terkel included Wolf in his 1995 book "Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century By Those Who've Lived It." In it, Terkel called her one of the two things that made living in modern Seattle special.

"You have the Mariners, and you have Hazel Wolf," the author said.

Wolf was born in Victoria, British Columbia, on March 10, 1898. She fought a school principal to gain the right to play soccer, and as a young woman became active in the voting-rights movement for women.

She came to the United States in 1923 as a single mother looking for work to support her daughter. After a stint putting "Made in Japan" stickers on plastic toys, she became a legal secretary, a job she held for most of her working life.

During the Depression, Wolf joined the American Communist Party, chiefly to support civil rights and labor issues, but lost interest in the party during World War II.

In 1947, the government attempted to deport her to Britain where newspapers called her "The Red Grandma." The attempt failed and she gained U.S. citizenship in 1949.

In her later years, she became a staunch advocate for environmental causes. In addition to her Audubon Society work, she served as editor of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs newsletter since 1978.

Some of the awards she received included the Association of Biologists and Ecologists of Nicaragua award for "work for the conservation of nature" in 1985, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility's Paul Beeson Peace Award in 1995, the National Audubon Society's Medal of Excellence in 1997 and Seattle's Spirit of America Award in 1999.

Wolf celebrated her 100th birthday as secretary of the Seattle chapter of the Audubon Society, a post she held for 37 years. Seven hundred people turned out to help celebrate the milestone.

Wolf told Terkel that one of her biggest ambitions was to make it to the 21st century. "Then I'm going," she told the author.

"She always said she wanted to live in three centuries, and she did it," Peterson said. "She was that kind of person."

Wolf is survived by her daughter and five grandchildren. A memorial service was planned for Feb. 11, Peterson said.