PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — When Platteville’s St. Mary School closed in 2012, longtime teacher Delores “Dee” Woolf technically retired with it.
But the teacher of 41 years didn’t exactly hang it up.
She has been a troop leader for area Boy Scouts for more than 40 years as well. She also worked her way up into leadership in the American Legion Auxiliary, especially with Badger Girl State, the annual civics and governance conference for high school girls. She also puts in a lot of work every year for the Alone for Christmas free, holiday meal for the community.
“I didn’t retire very hard,” Woolf said. “People give me a hard time about that.”
Maggie Kleisath officially runs the holiday meal. She is also a leader of area Girl Scout programs. Through both, she works closely with Woolf and said she was a tireless, dependable volunteer.
“She’s very caring,” Kleisath said. “She wants to help out anybody who she can. And she is so dependable. I can rely on her every year saying ‘Yeah, I’ll go pick up the turkeys and get them there.’ That’s not always the case when you’re working with volunteers. And she has more energy than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
This past week would have been the Badger Girl State summit in Oshkosh. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was canceled this year.
Woolf said she and the board already have started planning for next year.
“A lot of our alumnus have gone on to become lawyers, judges, but common people, too, who might run for local office or might just lead in other ways,” she said. “They learn a lot about themselves, too. We aim to have 750 delegates. If you’re from a small town and you see 749 other girls with all of the qualifications you have, you think ‘Oh, OK.’ It is so good for them.”
The pandemic also changed the way the Scouts have operated, but Woolf said the community has made it work.
“There’s still a lot you can do,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of the outside stuff with the hikes and the fire safety, outside cleanups and looking out for the community.”
Generally, Woolf said her life of teaching and serving her community’s youth has been something she has cherished.
“I enjoy seeing kids achieve,” she said. “It just does your heart good to see somebody gain confidence and move on.”