Thursday, August 16, 2012

KCKCC losing outstanding staff employee Lorraine Wolf


A job she didn’t want turned into a 15-year career for Lorraine Wolf – and one of Kansas City Community College’s best hires.

“Lorraine has been invaluable to this institution,” says Provost Dr. Tamara Agha-Jaffar for whom Wolf has served as executive assistant for the last three years. “Her wealth of knowledge and expertise in academic affairs has made her one of the College’s most valued resources.”

That knowledge and expertise and her ability to work smoothly, cordially and professionally with faculty, staff and administration earned Wolf KCKCC’s most prestigious award, the Outstanding Staff Employee of the Year in 2009

Her years of service, however, may never have happened had it not for the insistence of her sister, JoAnn.

“I had just moved into a different house was living with my daughter and son,” says Wolf, who will be honored at a retirement reception from 1:30-4 p.m. one day before her retirement Thursday, Aug. 30.

“I was taking care of a friend’s sick baby and working on the house and had no intention of going back to work anytime soon when my sister called and said she had seen an ad for the job and that I would be perfect for it because I was familiar with working with state personnel, which was one of the requirements on the job posting. I told her I didn’t want a job but she said it’s not often jobs like that open up and that the College was a wonderful place to work. So I called and interviewed with Dr. Kaye Walter and Dr. Henry Louis. I had never worked in education and didn’t even know who I was interviewing to work for – but I got the job.”

Hired as a secretary to Dr. Walter, who was Vice-President for Academic Services, the position has since evolved into much, much more.

The academic liaison with the faculty, her responsibilities include seven print schedules a year, all print catalogs, all curriculum changes and processing the corrections and changes for on-line catalogs.

She also was at the curriculum forefront of the implementation of DataTel, the College’s content management based operating system and is one of the College’s most knowledge DataTel resources.

“She helped to educate me on my role as chief academic officer,” said Dr. Agha-Jaffar. “Whenever I had questions on academic issues, the Kansas Board of Regents or the Higher Learning Commission, I could always count on Lorraine for the right answer. Not only has she been invaluable to me, she has served as a vital resource for faculty, staff and the administration because of her knowledge and expertise with academic issues.”

Born in KCK, Wolf’s mother died when she was just five and she spent various periods of her childhood living with her grandmother, sister, father and stepmother while attending Catholic elementary and high schools in KCK and Kansas City, Mo.

“My senior year was my only year in a public school,” says Wolf, who graduated from Miller High in Miller, Mo., in 1969.

Wolf also married during the Christmas holidays during her senior year. The couple’s first daughter, Melissa, was born Jan. 17, 1971.

“My husband was drafted the day our first child was two weeks old and joined the Air Force the next day,” says Wolf.

As a military wife whose husband’s tour of duty took him to San Antonio, Whiteman Air Force Base and Thailand, she lived in Knob Noster where she worked in the office of a trailer park, and Grandview while he was overseas.

By the time her husband was discharged, Joseph Lynn Wolf II had come along followed by another son, Jeffrey Arthur, and the couple moved back to KCK.

“My husband was a truck driver and I worked in the office of a trucking/excavating company from about 1976 to 1983,” says Wolf.

“About that time my sister and brother-in-law bought a corner grocery store on S. 10th near Kansas Avenue and I worked for them for about three years until the economy went bad and they were forced to close in 1986.”

Divorced in 1985, she became the executive secretary to the CEO/Administrator at St. Joseph Care Center at 7th and Vermont, the same hospital (formerly St. Margaret’s) where she was born.

“About the mid-90’s, I got to thinking I was born here and I think I’m going to die here so it was time to move on.”

Wolf is taking early retirement starting Sept. 1.

“I started life with a brother and two sisters and have lost all three so I want to take advantage of some me time,” Wolf said of her decision to retire. “I started working at Waid’s when I was 14. I’m 60 now and have been working all my life.”
Retirement will give Wolf a chance to spend more time with her 10 grandchildren, who range in age from 2 to 24 and except for three, all live in the Basehor and Tonganoxie area.

“I’ve also got an embroidery machine I haven’t used in 3-4 years I’m going to dust off. I’d like to do more crafting and I do like to cook although I haven’t done much in the last few years. My daughter and I might even start a catering business as a part-time job. We used to cater a lot of weddings and events when I worked for my sister.”

Even in retirement, she plans to stay close to the college.

“All three of my kids attended KCKCC and my oldest granddaughter will be finishing nursing school this coming year so I’ll be around. It’s such a vital part of the community and I loved working with students. And I will miss working with the deans, faculty, staff, everybody.”

The feeling is mutual, says Dr. Agha-Jaffar.

“Although I’m very happy for her now that she’s retiring, I also know she will be greatly missed and hard to replace. The institution owes a great debt of gratitude to Lorraine Wolf for her many years of service.”