Betty Joe Wolff, aka Granny, was promoted to heaven Feb. 22, 2018 after 91 glorious years on God's green earth without ever having a bad hair day.
She had a lifelong love affair with corned beef hash, banana pudding, seafood gumbo and Werther's original candies, and if she had been an ice cream flavor it would have been butter pecan - though we would have lost her long ago as she would have eaten herself, probably in one sitting. Frugal to a fault, she could make a box of zip lock bags last 3 1/2 years.
A member of St. James Episcopal Church for over 50 years, Betty Joe was always one word ahead of the congregation in psalms and hymns. It's possible she served in every position except rector and volunteered there until the end.
After "putting her face on" every morning, she was a body in motion that stayed in motion. She authored her own destiny. Her passion was books and she purchased Page & Palette in 1972 in downtown Fairhope, creating a haven for readers and authors alike. Many people attribute the rich writing culture in Fairhope to Granny's decades of promoting books and bringing in authors from around the nation to our little town. Thousands of authors had their first signing at Page & Palette, along with Fannie Flagg and countless others.
Granny was a part of many "firsts" in Fairhope. In 1960, she helped organize the "Pink Ladies" at Thomas Hospital (now the Auxiliary), charter member and organizer of the Downtown Fairhope Business Association, the first president of Theatre 98 and one of the first members of Knights and Knighties (Fairhope's oldest ball) to name a few. In between she played cards with the Loose Ladies Widows and belonged to the Capricorn group, which included many legendary Fairhopers. She volunteered at The Swift-Coles home in Bon Secour and at 90 years old and 90 miles per hour she would travel the back roads of Baldwin County to get there. (The world is a safer place now.)
On a side note, she started the original "beatbox" by clicking her tongue as she chewed, popped and smacked her spearmint gum. Her grandson, Josh Wolff, can closely recreate this phenomenon if anyone wishes to hear a sampling.
It was rare when Granny recalled someone's name; proper nouns in general have never been a Wolff forte. But she knew everyone ... where they worked and who their family was. If you asked her who could alter your Mardi Gras dress, she would answer "Oh.... what's that precious girl's name? You know the gal down there that worked at the bank next to the post office. The OLD Post Office! Her father used to make those cast nets down at......oh what was that place called?! The place in Point Clear!! You Know who I'm talking about?!" Her response crescendoed until someone in the non-fiction aisle would pipe in "Augusta Davis!"
Betty Joe took pride in the fact she had never darkened the door of a Walmart. She had no use for the letter "R," speed bumps or a long homily. If she said "God bless America and all the ships at sea!" you knew she was really mad.
We believe she only cussed once, ironically during The Miracle at Thomas Hospital in 1965 in the company of Becky Jones, the biology teacher at Fairhope High School, Dr. Mullins, and her son, Robbie, who was on a gurney after mistaking a coral snake for a king snake. Oh yes, and the Spanish teacher, Mr. Rich, who was called in to decipher the instructions for the anti-venom that was written in Portuguese flown in earlier that day.
We tried to find someone who said they'd ever heard her say an unkind word about anyone but we failed.
Granny was at the very center of every single life event in our family.
She was preceded in death by her father, Joseph Gibson Ford Jr.; mother, Helen Vaughan Howell Ford; husband, Robert W. Wolff Sr.; and sister, Helen Ann Ford Atchley (husband, Ben and son, Ben Jr.)
She will be remembered by those she left behind: son, Robert W. Wolff Jr.; daughter, Donna Wolff Anderson; granddaughter, Karin Wolff Wilson (husband Kiefer Wilson and daughters Tyler and Tanner Wilson); granddaughter, Kelley Wolff Lyons (husband Michael Robert Lyons and children Olivia, Ethan and Emily Lyons); grandson, Joshua Ford Wolff; granddaughter, Jennifer Eden Wolff; grandson, Hunter Vaughan Anderson (wife, Sarah Shepherd Anderson and daughter, Elle Morgan Anderson); grandson, Christopher Blackwell; niece, Joe Ann Atchley Ramsey (husband WH Johnson Ramsey); great-niece, Helen Parish Ramsey (daughter, Carmen Anne Namie; great-niece, Jordan Paige Ramsey Hoffpauir (husband, Chase Andre and children, Hayden and Ramsey); great-nephew, Brian Daniel Atchley (his mother, Patricia, wife, Delise and children, Kade and Barrett) and by every person who loved her that she also considered family, too numerous to list.
Our family knew there were three certainties in life - death, taxes and Granny's faith. If we all want to keep a little bit of Granny's magic here on earth, all we need to do is keep the faith.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 1 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church in Fairhope.
In lieu of flowers, Granny suggested contributing to St. James Episcopal Church, 860 N. Section St., Fairhope, AL 36532, or to Wolff Cottage (named in her honor), Fairhope Center of the Writing Arts (FECA), P.O. Box 826, Fairhope, AL 36533.
Expressions of condolence may be offered at www.hughesfh.com.
Hughes Funeral Home is assisting the family.