Sherry B. Wolfe, 73, Doer of Good Works
Sherry B. Wolfe of Springs, a tireless advocate for East Hampton’s business interests as well as a longtime volunteer to help the sick, the hungry, and the abused, died at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital on Dec. 28 of heart failure. She had been ill for about a year.
Ms. Wolfe made her career in real estate. Before moving full time to East Hampton with her husband, Ralph J. Wolfe, she was head of the corporate-relocations department at Four Seasons Realtors in Red Bank, N.J. It was in New Jersey that she met Mr. Wolfe, who was an executive with Panasonic, although they soon were spending summers in East Hampton and were married at the East Hampton Presbyterian Church on Aug. 16, 1983. Some years later, after they moved to East Hampton full time, they worked alongside one another as brokers at the Corcoran real estate agency’s East Hampton office. Mr. Wolfe died in 2007.
But her passion was service and volunteering. Having been a survivor of domestic abuse in an earlier marriage, Ms. Wolfe became president of the board of trustees at the Retreat — a nonprofit that offers shelter and support to women and children who have been the victims of domestic violence — during its formative years in the 1980s. She bravely spoke out about her own experiences, and was a driving organizational and administrative force in the movement to make the Retreat a reality.
“Sherry was dazzling,” said Mary Bromley, a counselor and former president of the Retreat’s board of trustees, recalling events in 1987 and 1988. “I call her my blond bombshell on her white horse, riding into town! There we were, these beleaguered clinicians — a ragtag bunch of therapists and social workers and physicians with the big plan — and she really knocked people over. She was a role model, a victim who became a survivor. She dedicated herself full time to fund-raising, working with the politicians, getting state funding, working with the town board, writing grants, and getting commitments from everyone to actually build the shelter.”
Ms. Wolfe was president of the local chapter of Rotary International, being honored with its Person of the Year Award for her work with the Retreat, and was made a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary. She was on the board of directors of East End Hospice and Southampton Hospital. Both she and Mr. Wolfe were active with Meals on Wheels. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the East Hampton Ladies Village Improvement Society, and the Ramblers. She took a leadership role at the Presbyterian Church, as well, becoming a member not just of its session but of the Committee on Ministry of the Long Island Presbytery.
But perhaps most prominent among her many roles as a community leader was as an articulate and tireless booster of business. As the executive director of the East Hampton Business Alliance for many years, beginning in the 1990s, Ms. Wolfe frequently took her turn at the podium during forums and public hearings on the hot-button issues of the day: parking, upzoning, a proposed building moratorium, the town’s comprehensive plan, and water sustainability, to name a few. She was a member of a committee investigating intractable problems surrounding East Hampton Airport.
Ms. Wolfe was born on Aug. 30, 1944, in Stamford, Conn., to William W. Quarles III and the former Dorothy Skene. After her mother remarried, Ms. Wolfe took the last name of her stepfather, Frank N. Bowers. She was raised in Short Hills, N.J. After high school, she studied French at the Catholic University of Paris, and graduated from Baldwin Wallace College in Ohio — where she was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta sorority — with a bachelor’s degree in political science. After her schooling, but before getting involved in real estate, she was a flight attendant for Pan American Airlines, and later worked for the Northeast marketing division of Eastern Airlines, in charge of corporate sales.
A funeral service will be held at the East Hampton Presbyterian Church on Jan. 21 at 11:30 a.m., immediately following the regular Sunday worship service. The Rev. Scot McCachren will officiate. Ms. Wolfe’s ashes will join those of her husband in the church’s memorial garden. Friends have suggested memorial contributions to the Retreat, 13 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton 11937, or to the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton, 120 Main Street, East Hampton 11937.