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Virginia Anne Simmons Wolf ’36

A picture of Virginia Simmons Wolf

Virginia Anne Simmons Wolf ’36, September 15, 2010, in Bethesda, Maryland, from complications related to Alzheimer's disease. A writer and entomologist, Ginny grew up in Portland in the ’20s. Her education began early: “My dad would bring home great rolls of butcher paper, and we would lie on our stomachs in front of the pot-bellied stove, copying the entire front page of the morning Oregonian in block letters. We could read and write long before we went to school.” At Reed, she earned a BA in literature and also met Harry E. Wolf ’41; they were married in the Eliot Hall chapel in 1938. After Harry completed a degree in physics from Reed, the two did graduate studies at the University of Oklahoma. Following World War II, Harry began a career as a physicist in underwater research with the U.S. Naval Ordnance Lab in Maryland. Ginny worked as a writer and editor. In the ’40s, she sold several stories to national magazines, including a story set at Reed about climbing Mt. Hood. In the ’50s–’60s, she focused on science writing and became publications officer of the entomology research division for the USDA, completing a graduate-level program with the USDA in 1965. A year later, she published “Titling Biological Publications for Proper Storage and Retrieval” in the Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America. Ginny and Harry moved to Hawaii in 1968; there she did editing and writing for the entomological laboratory at the University of Hawaii, while he served on the military's science advisory group. Ginny continued to write and edit for Hawaiian scientists for 18 years. She also served as Maryland state chairman of international relations for the League of Women Voters. She published her poetry and played five versions of the recorder. Her education at Reed was the foundation for her career, she said. “I learned to think on my feet, hold up my end of an argument, and write well.” Survivors include her son, Peter; her daughter, Catherine Wolf Swan ’66; and two grandchildren, including grandson Carl J. Swan ’06. Harry died of brain cancer in 1999.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2011

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