Colby, KS

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Wolf to receive honorary degree from CCC

andy lambertMay 3, 2016

In recognition of her contributions to the community and Colby Community College, retired music educator Jan Wolf has been selected to receive the 2016 Honorary Associate Degree.

Wolf was born and raised in Colby, and from an early age took an interest in music. While attending Colby High School she sang several duets with classmate and future opera star Samuel Ramey. After graduation she moved to Greeley, Colo., and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado.  She continued at UNC to get her Master of Arts in Vocal Performance and taught music classes as a graduate assistant. 

In 1967 Wolf moved to St. Francis to teach elementary music. She continued to sing in recitals and other events, including soprano solos in the 1970 production of “Messiah” at the Colby Community Building.

In December of 1972, an opportunity opened in her hometown.

“The music teacher at Colby was ill and couldn’t finish the school year, so Jimmy Nickel hired me to step in – and I stayed here.”

Wolf remained in the Colby district teaching K-12 music until her retirement in 2000. Throughout, she offered violin, viola, cello and bass lessons to students of all ages, often taking them to festivals and competitions.

In the community, Wolf directed the United Methodist Church Chancel Choir for 30 years. She also played violin in the Pride of the Prairie Orchestra from its inception in 1979 until her final year in 2011 when she served as the director.

Her connection to CCC runs deep. One semester she taught a music class when her help was needed, and over time taught many students in private lessons. In addition, her late husband Neil helped design the indoor swimming pool and managed it for several years.

When relating to young people, Jan said she and Neil were “gatherers of kids.”

“As a walking mailman covering 26 miles a day, Neil was a ‘pied piper.’ Kids would follow him for a few blocks. Those kids were involved with Boy Scouts, members of the swim club, and kids up and down the streets.”

When Neil became manager of the college pool, it was CCC students who became recipients of the Wolfs’ kindness.

“We would get to know the students Neil worked with and appreciate them. We housed four basketball players for a couple of years. Neil loved to cook, and they could eat.  When the college cafeteria was closed, Neil came to the rescue. They liked my homemade bread too.” 

In one sentence Jan summarized their relationships with CCC students over the years: “There was always a place at the table for them.”

Wolf was selected by a committee of college and community members. The honorary degree will be conferred during commencement on Friday, May 13, at 6 p.m. in the Colby Community Building.

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