Arkansas College’s Oldest living graduate dies at 103

Arkansas College’s oldest living graduate, Bess Wolf, died Feb. 27    at age 103.

Wolf graduated from Arkansas College in 1930 and was awarded the    Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982 and an honorary degree in 1992. She is    the mother of Adele Wolf Grilli, Administrative Assistant to the Divisions    of Language & Literature and Fine Arts.

Services were March 3 at First Presbyterian Church. Burial followed at    Oaklawn Cemetery.

Wolf also had another daughter, Florence Calaway, of Olive Branch, Miss.

Bessie “Bess” Wolf was born June 16, 1908 in Esto, Fla., to John    and Mattie Millen. The family moved to Malvern, where Wolf graduated as    valedictorian of her class. She was offered five scholarships and made her    choice according to which college had a pipe organ. At just 16 years old,    she boarded a train to come to Batesville to attend Arkansas College (now    Lyon), where she earned a bachelor of science in music.

In 1931 she married John Quincy Wolf Jr., and the two moved to Memphis, where    he taught at Southwestern (now Rhodes College) and she became Director of    Admissions. She has had various other careers, including coaching women’s    basketball for Batesville High School and teaching at Lyon College.

At age 50, she went back to school at the University of Memphis to get a    master’s degree in psychology. Wolf returned to the Wolf family home in    Batesville in 1974 after her husband’s death.

Wolf taught herself how to play instruments and sing while still a child,    and later, she and Quincy earned attention for collecting and publishing    folk songs.

The hundreds of recordings that the couple made before Quincy’s death are    now housed in the Lyon College Regional Studies Center. Wolf donated the    collection to Lyon in the early 1980s.

The John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection is available online at    Â