Carolyn and Dr. John Wolf Legacy Award

Carolyn and Dr. John Wolf Legacy Award


It is our pleasure to continue the Carolyn and Dr. John Wolf Legacy Award.

A task force, comprised of John Wolf, Cathy Greenawald, Chuck Worden, Mark LaBarbera, and Bob Wanek have established criteria that reflect the distinguished YMCA and community service careers of Carolyn and John. And each year a deserving person or group receives this distinguished award and honor. The following is an abbreviated story of how the Wolf Family's commitments made a difference in the lives of many.

Carolyn's father, Earl Kelsey, attended Cornell University in NY and was recruited by John R. Mott, a charismatic figure in the Y movement who founded the Y student expansion in the late 1800's. Their efforts focused on recruitment of students to serve as Y missionaries all over the country. Locally, the Valparaiso University student Y, established in 1896, was born out of this movement. Carolyn's mother, Eva, was a teacher who was active in the women's suffrage movement and numerous community development initiatives.

John's father, Ralph R., was recruited by a Y lay leader in Marion Indiana who supported his continuing education at George Williams College which influenced extensive missionary work abroad, including Panama, to establish a Y for canal workers, followed by military Y camps, a precursor to the USO. During this era, the Y sent missionaries all over the world to establish service programs. Eventually he served as a Y secretary in Great Falls, Montana and the railroad Y in Pocatello Idaho. John reflected about how the railroad workers often said, "the Y is our home away from home."

John and Carolyn attended Oberlin College in Ohio and were drawn to the commitment to "social responsibility attitude" throughout the campus. Carolyn continued her education at Columbia University where she received her Master's in Education and John attended nearby Union Seminary.

John volunteered for Navy Chaplaincy and served 3.5 years on a naval amphibious ship in the European and Pacific theaters. Post WWII, John served on Y boards in Evansville, Martinsville, South Bend and is the only clergy to have served as the chair of the Valpo Y board. During this period, Carolyn served with the Women of the Methodist Church, League of Women Voters and PEO Sorority.

John also served his community through Rotary International, having started the first Veteran's Day event in 1999. John often reminds us that the "Y is an arm of the church."


The recipient of the Carolyn and Dr. John Wolf Legacy Award for 2015 was Debi and Bill Anderson.