Crestwood Place remembers centenarian Wolf
Elizabeth Wolf celebrated her 100th birthday at Northbrook Crestwood Place May 10. She died July 23 from complications from a fall. | Karie Angell Luc~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 12:53PM
Elizabeth Wolf of Northbrook who celebrated her 100th birthday last Mother’s Day, was “a dear friend who will be missed by many,” said John Kollar, Wolf’s Crestwood Place neighbor.
“She always had something nice to say, always had a smile.”
Said Gina Friend, also a Crestwood Place resident: “She was special, she was an upper, she looked up instead of down.
“Everybody here loved her, everybody here really, really loved her…”
Guests gifted her with a $100 cashier’s check.
“One dollar for every year,” Wolf said May 10.
A birthday card collected numerous Crestwood Place signatures.
Two weeks after the story of the party was published in the Northbrook Star, the centenarian suffered a fall in her apartment where she lived independently for three years.
“She (Elizabeth) had a great two weeks, she really did,” said Richard, of his mother-in-law’s remaining Crestwood Place days. After being cared for at a number of places, including Glenbrook and Highland Park Hospitals, she died July 23 at Glenview Terrace.
Those great two weeks also included a May 12 Glenview Valley Lo Club party hosted by the Washers and Charles and Theresa Wolf (Charles is Elizabeth’s son), The Valley Lo celebration included Crestwood Place neighbors who enjoyed prime rib.
“She loved eating,” said Wolf’s daughter Marion Washer of Northbrook.
“She loved Schnapps,” added her husband, Richard, with a chuckle.
“On Christmas Eve this year,” Kollar added, “she would often make me, and others, apple strudel and cookies. I remember last Christmas Eve when I had her over to my place and we drank some special Schnapps and had a great time.”
Wolf spoke of, “a good steak and a beer, bratwurst and sauerkraut, but no beer (then) and apple strudel.”
Born May 13, 1912, Elizabeth (Strunz) arrived to New York City from Germany in 1937 on her 25th birthday to join her brother and his wife.
Raised along the Alsace/Lorraine German border side, Elizabeth appeased authorities by raising her arm in “Heil Hitler,” desperately hoping for relief via U.S. port of entry.
“She didn’t like talking about it,” said Marion, of wartime memories.
“She knew the boy who was in charge of stamping the visas,” explained Marion, “and he said to her, ‘Why would you want to leave Germany when Hitler needs all of the young women?’
“And she (Elizabeth) said, ‘I want to go visit my brother (Frank),’ and she wasn’t sure whether he would stamp her visa or not.
“But he stamped her visa, she was so relieved.
Of leaving family in Europe: “It was tragic,” said Marion. Elizabeth later learned of her mother’s death by mail.
Through her brother Frank in Chicago, Elizabeth met Emil Wolf. A tool and die maker, also a woodworker, Emil married Elizabeth via a judge on July 19, 1939. He was 15 years her senior and died in 1997 at age 99.
Elizabeth and Emil, married 58 years (formerly of DuPage County, Elmhurst), enjoyed strolls down Northbrook Shermer Rd., walking the mile to visit the Washers near Lee Road.
The Wolfs lived in a Northbrook Cherry Lane condominium.
“They would stop and talk,” said their son-in-law Richard. “They truly stopped and smelled the flowers along the way.”
“The last time she did it (strolling Shermer Road), she (Elizabeth) was 99.
“We weren’t home,” added Marion, “And she left a note that said, ‘Mom was here.’”
Marion phoned her mother everyday at 8:30 a.m.
“Mom, you’ve got to call before you come,” recalled Marion, of that conversation.
Elizabeth Wolf’s life was celebrated July 26 at Northbrook Village Presbyterian Church, where she was a member.
“She lived 100 years, two months and 10 days,” said Richard, a Sportsman’s Country Club golf starter.
“When she (Elizabeth) was in Highland Park Hospital, when she woke up, there was a nurse’s aide in the room who asked how she was doing, and Elizabeth said she had a dream she was at St. Peter’s gate, wanting to get in, but couldn’t.”
“And the aide responded, ‘Did you knock?’ and Elizabeth said, ‘No, I forgot.’
“Two weeks later, she knocked,” said Richard.
“I was holding her hand when she died.
“My vocabulary doesn’t do her justice to give her the adjectives she deserves.”
Elizabeth Wolf had three grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Memorials are encouraged to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 11 S. La Salle, Suite 1800, Chicago, IL 60603 or Village Presbyterian Church.