Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

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Corinne Wolfe

Corinne Wolfe


Honored June, 1986

Corinne Wolfe

"I have always been involved with children," says Corinne Wolfe. "From the very early days of the Depression I was concerned with families, children, and the elderly Some of my first work as a social worker was in adoptions and foster care."

Born Corinne Howell in El Paso, Texas, in 1912, she was the eldest of five children. Her father was a cattleman, and she grew up on a ranch in the Sacramento Mountains near Alamogordo, New Mexico. "My father was a very just man.... He had great feeling that everyone should be respected, and each person should have his own rights," she said.

Corinne went to high school and college in El Paso at the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. She was sixteen when she began college. "When I went, they were just starting to make it a liberal arts school," she said, "I didnÕt know anything about social work at the time." But she learned about it from a sociology teacher in her "junior or senior year in college."

Corinne earned a teaching certificate, but she never used it. "In the 1930s, it was the beginning of the Depression, and there was incredible need. I first started working in 1933 with the El Paso Employment and Rehabilitation Division. That was when the transients were beginning to come across the state. I helped run a transient bureau."

From 1934 to 1935 Corinne went to Tulane University to work on her master's degree, and then returned to Texas, where she held a number of social work jobs until after World War II. "After the war, I went to Fort Worth to work at the Veterans Administration, trying to work out the care of wounded veterans coming back," Corinne said.

Corinne married Howard Wolfe, an accountant, in 1936. When she divorced, Corinne moved to San Francisco to work for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. In the 1950s and 1960s, Corinne went to Washington, D.C., to work in the Bureau of Public Assistance, a job that took her throughout the world. "The first visit that I made was to the Soviet Union. I spent two months there studying their social security system," she said. "I've been to Denmark and Sweden. I've been to most of the developing countries; I've been to Iran, Israel, to Japan, India, and China.... One of my specialties in Japan was teaching participatory management."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes