Reflections on the Life of Distinguished Toastmaster
Eileen Veronica Wolfe by Distinguished Toastmaster Shirley Daley
2022 January 31
2003 February 15 - Terra Nova Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica
That was where the next leg of our journey as Toastmasters from the Caribbean began, in our quest to become a District. Bearing the strong feet of the Eagle, was Distinguished Toastmaster and International Director, Eileen Wolfe. With enthusiasm and bouncing energy, she leveraged her connection with relevant Toastmasters members regionally and internationally to set up the Caribbean Territorial Council of Toastmasters (CTCT). After this inaugural meeting that February, it was at her house in Russell Heights that the first CTCT Executive was installed by the late and Past International President, Ted Wood with his wife Inez, on the same evening. Ladies and gentlemen, we have never looked back. On the Council was Paul Sharp, Shirley Daley, Sherry Ann Batson, Sonia Alexis, Lorna Barrow, Webster Josephs and Donna Knight.
Today, this CTCT now D81, boasts over 200 clubs coming from 20 and is ranked # 1 in the Western Hemisphere and #2 in Member Retention. We salute the sterling effort of Toastmaster Wolfe.
True to the meaning of her name of Irish origin, Eileen was 'bright and the shining one'. ... 'lively' and 'pleasant'. She was full of spunk and always walking crisply with a sense of purpose. Her inexhaustible passion for Toastmasters was evident in her willingness to train Club and District Leaders. In speaking with Toastmasters through the years, they would recount how she would be the encouraging voice to push and press them to take on higher leadership roles and committed to support them.
On my own journey, she was the first person who planted the seed in my mind that I could run for the position of International Director and although I did not win, the experience was unmatched. I learned to value the process of my life’s journey.
Eileen also means 'strength' and little bird'. She was the strong little bird who had the “know how” and committed to getting it done. Permit me to go back, as our first Council Governor, Paul Sharp reflected on when we were told in 2,000 that we could not become a District without Puerto Rico. Not believing that pronouncement, Eileen flapped her wings, gathered strength, soared, scouted the Caribbean skies and beyond, then landed with the goods in 2003. Distinguished Toastmaster Thelma Cooke Wallace can tell us the story of working with the names on those spreadsheets.
This woman lived and was buoyed by the power of her surname, Wolfe. Again, from Anglo-Irish origin, it is said that the name bearers of “Wolfe” are a family of wolf hunters and that they are cunning and fierce. A Past Region Advisor (PA), Toastmaster Wolfe fiercely went after knowledge, people and other resources to realise the Toastmasters Dream for herself and others around the world. She would work hard, support and mentor potential leaders to the level of even international president on the Toastmasters journey. Even with ill heath sometimes, she was driven by her commitment and will to succeed.
(Oh the ‘Strength of a Woman” says Shaggy although Beres Hammond was her guy)
Distinguished Toastmaster Wolfe exhibited elegance in her leadership image. She was consciously fashionable and loved animal prints especially from the leopard family. We note that she owned several sets. She was always well coiffed, decked out and coordinated from head to toe – matching glasses frame with dress, bag and shoes.
Seriously speaking, she exemplified that state of being every-ready to carry out or complete a task publicly – offering herself or being called upon while attending an event. If it was to chair a meeting, introduce someone, install Officers without prior notice, she was ready. This posture is one that Toastmasters encourages us to exhibit so that we can play a role or participate in an exercise comfortably and confidently at any time. She took it to another level!
In 2014 at the D81 May Conference in Puerto Rico, the District, with then District Governor (Ewart Adams) recognized Toastmaster Wolfe for 10 years of Dedicated Service to D81. In July of 2018 at one of our Laas Lick celebration to mark the end of a Toastmasters Year, the members of Division B of D81 under the leadership of Division Governor, Shonari Bullock, sent our “bright and shinning one”, Eileen, roses again, while she was still here. We recognized and honored her on that occasion for 40 years as a Toastmaster. It was a surprise! She received it with joy as evidenced not only by her words of gratitude but that shinning sincere smile. The same smile on this programme. That night we had dancing and she was relentless in her moves matching the music scores.
As you can see, Toastmaster Wolfe was fun to be around and I tell you, get ready to laugh loud when she regaled you with her storied life while we travelled the world with her or during a Toastmasters event. That was when we heard about her daughters, Lisa and Tanya and the doting grandmother she was for Piper (up to tricks).
While we will miss her from every international toastmasters convention, district conference, charter and installation ceremonies, Toastmasters Week celebrations (Church Service) leadership training and club meeting, we release her with open arms.
We are sincerely grateful for all she gave and say to her in paraphrasing from the song writer, Steve Green:
“Your life has been a testament of God’s sustaining grace and we who have come behind you have found you faithful. We are committed, like you to let the fire of our devotion to Toastmasters, light their way. We will carry on.”
On behalf of all the Toastmasters of District 81 from around the Caribbean and beyond, I wish to thank you Lisa, Tanya and Piper for liberally sharing your mother and grandmother with us! We will be continuously grateful.
Distinguished Toastmaster Eileen Wolfe, take your rest and be at peace!