Marilyn Wolfe was a small woman with a big heart and boundless energy and generosity — all of which she shared with everyone whose life she touched in the Rim Country.
She helped make the annual holiday Electric Light Parade in Payson a success; was deeply involved with the Tonto Community Concert Association for many years, with her efforts and those of her fellow volunteers being very instrumental in its winning the 2011 Governor’s Arts Award for Arts in Education Organization; she helped the Zane Grey cabin replica become a reality at Green Valley Park; and shared her love and talent for music with her church, United Methodist Church of Payson.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Wolfe lost a hard-fought battle with cancer. On Tuesday, a memorial bench for her was dedicated at the Green Valley Park museum complex.
Her widower, Dick Wolfe, greeted the more than four dozen people who came to the park for the special program. The group was welcomed by the president of the Northern Gila County Historical Society, Betty Berryman, who said the bench was made possible by the Friends of the Northern Gila County Historical Society and the Payson Roundup newspaper.
Mrs. Wolfe’s pastor Javier Olivares Jr. delivered the invocation, quoting from Proverbs 31 and its passages about a woman of noble character.
Dick Wolfe thanked everyone who made the memorial bench possible.
“It will make it possible for future generations to know who she was. She was the kindest, most generous and gentle person I knew and our 24 years together were the best years of my life. I never heard her utter a harsh word. I learned a lot from her. She was a true Christian through and through and worked very hard on me (to become one too),” Wolfe said.
He said she worked very hard to get the Zane Grey cabin built and was the (cabin) foundation’s very tight-fisted treasurer, making everyone account for every penny spent.
“Most people don’t know she was also responsible for furnishing the cabin. She picked out all the furniture. Her voice is also on the self-guided tour tapes,” he said.
“She loved Payson and its people. She was very happy here. She was a very, very sweet person and loved music and people and it was evident in the way she lived,” Wolfe concluded.
Judy Smith, who worked with Mrs. Wolfe through both the Tonto Community Concert Association and Zane Grey Cabin Foundation, said Mrs. Wolfe helped her make the transition into the TCCA treasurer’s position very easy, promising to help her all along the way. That help was especially important to Smith when the decision was made to computerize all the TCCA’s records and each year when the group’s taxes came back asking for additional information.
“I am going to sit on this bench, look up and be thankful for all the help she gave us. We love you and miss you,” Smith said.