Each year, five women are chosen by the Punxsutawney Career Women’s Club for Career Women’s Week. The criteria used for choosing these women are based not only on their professional efforts, but also on the contributions they have made to community and family.
The club was founded in 1930, originally known as Punxsutawney Business & Professional Women’s Club. Sept. 8, 1998, the club name was changed and incorporated as a non-profit organization under the name of Punxsutawney Career Women’s Club, with objectives to promote growth and respect of women in the workplace; improve self-esteem in all careers; educate women; and support community projects.
PUNXSUTAWNEY — Many people know her as a retired English teacher at Punxsutawney Area High School, but most know her as an advocate for Mahoning Shadow Trail. And some know her as the lady in red who walks all the time.
Susan K. Wolfe, Punxsutawney, didn’t grow up in this area, but rather Johnstown, graduating from Forest Hills High School in a very rural school district similar to Punxsy.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Lock Haven University, where she majored in English, and earned her master’s degree in education with a concentration in English.
“I love to read, and I enjoy editing, but I’m not a good creative writer,” she said. “Bring me some information and say, ‘We need this organized and stated well,’ that’s where my talent lies,” Wolfe said, adding that Terry A. Fye was the department head when she first came to teach at Punxsy.
Susan said Lock Haven had a good placement service with a lot of information about Punxsy available. She called for an application, but back then, there wasn’t a standard Pennsylvania teacher application.
“I graduated in May 1973, and by the end of June, I signed my contract,” she said. “I applied at four different districts and interviewed at three of them.”
Wolfe said at the time, Punxsy offered the highest salary, and she chose to come here.
“I’m not a person to just take something and have my eyes on where I’m going next,” she said. “I think I was getting restless, and then in 1978, I met my husband, David Wolfe, and we got married in 1979.”
Susan said she and her husband — who was also in education, graduating from Slippery Rock with a degree in phys ed — knew each other 14 months between their meeting and the wedding. They both played softball for the Punxsy Hotel and were introduced to each other by a mutual friend.
Her husband eventually left education and has been employed by various industries throughout the area, such as Owens Illinois in Brookville, International Jensen in Punxsy and now Star Iron Works in Big Run.
“I recruit him a lot to volunteer; he’s my biggest supporter and has to put up with the fact that I might be out every night of the week, volunteering with different organizations and projects,” Wolfe said.
The first organization she joined was the former Punxsy Young Women’s Club.
“I was teased a lot about it being the ‘Young’ Women’s Club when I was one of the senior members until the Young Women’s Club ceased to exist,” she said. “Stacy Volchko, of the Punxsy Career Women’s Club, got ahold of an old Young Women’s Club yearbook and recruited the former members of the Young Women’s Club.
“I love to teach, and I wasn’t ready to retire, but you have to think about your future, and I had to think about my and my husband’s future since we have no children of our own, so I chose early retirement,” Wolfe said. “I love teaching kids, and it’s just wonderful when they see the light.
“When you try to teach them something, and (it’s gratifying when) you see the light go on, ‘I understand, I know what you’re saying,’” she said. “I knew I wasn’t ready to retire being involved with the schools.
“When I was full-time, I felt I always had the support of the other faculty members and the administration in the Punxsy district,” she said. “I had a good rapport with the administrators and never hesitated to go to them for help.”
Three weeks after her retirement, Wolfe was back as a substitute teacher.
When she was teaching, she also advised the cheerleaders and served as the journalism teacher/advisor for the school newspaper, then called The Highlights. Once she was no longer the cheerleading advisor, she became involved in community activities, Wolfe said.
Following retirement, she decided to return to teaching as a member of AmeriCorps, a national network of programs that engages more than 70,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in communities throughout the nation. Wolfe described AmeriCorps as a domestic version of the Peace Corps.
Of all of her activities, her work with the Rails-to-Trails Association is her favorite. The group first formed in 1992, and she joined two years later.
Her favorite portion of the Mahoning Shadow Trail is the section from Water Street to Fordham.
“We need more people to help with keeping it clean and safe,” she said.
Wolfe is also involved in the National Education Association; the Pennsylvania State Education Association; the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees; the Punxsutawney Area School District Health Council; the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center; the Punxsutawney Area Historical & Genealogical Society; Friends of the Punxsutawney Library; Delta Kappa Gamma-Society for Women Educators; and she also teaches a fitness class at the Punxsutawney Area Community Center.
Susan said she was very honored to be recognized by the Career Women’s Club.
“I enjoy my association and working with all of those women,” she said.
Wolfe said even though she’s not a native, she has considered Punxsutawney her home for the last 37 years.
“It’s a great place to live and work,” she said.