BROOKVILLE — Wayne Wolfe was never shy about standing up during Sunday services at Community United Methodist Church to announce he needed more donors for the church sponsored blood drive. “If they don’t want to hear me talk,” he would say, “they’d better do it.”
Donors always answered his call, helping Wayne build an award-winning monthly Brookville blood drive at Brookhaven Retirement Community that survived the Memorial Day 2019 tornadoes and the move to a new home at the Leiber Center during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now the blood drive survives Wayne as his legacy. He passed away April 26 at the age of 87.
“Wayne was a wonderful coordinator and had such a giving heart,” said Community Blood Center Account Manager Melinda Frech. “He was always willing to do whatever he needed to do to make the blood drives in Brookville a success, and he was determined make it to his own 10-gallon donation. Wayne will be sadly missed by all who knew him. Now he is with his wife and he sure did miss her so.”
Wayne taught for 27 years at the Greene County Career Center and moved to Brookville with his wife Judy after the deadly Xenia tornado of 1974.
Wayne was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015 but missed only one blood drive while undergoing chemotherapy. Five months after his diagnosis, and two days before Christmas 2015, he celebrated his recovery by recruiting family members to donate at the Brookhaven blood drive.
More devastating than his own illness was the loss of Judy in December 2018. They are survived by their four children, 16 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Wayne returned to donating after beating cancer and in June 2019 made his milestone 80th lifetime donation, the equivalent of 10 gallons of blood.
He dedicated his retirement years to coordinating the Community United Methodist blood drives that began some 23 years ago in the church basement.
“It started out as an Eagle Scout project by the minister’s son,” said Wayne, who was one of the first donors in 1999. “Somehow, I ended up with it, I don’t know how. Getting all that equipment down to the basement, in the beginning they had to hand carry it down the steps. And no air conditioning.”
The promise of easy access and air conditioning encouraged a change of location to the Brookhaven Retirement Community in 2001 with the church continuing as the sponsor. Brookhaven went on to host six blood drives per year, averaging up to 600 donors per year, before becoming a monthly blood drive in 2019.
His church volunteers baked cookies and served snacks and drinks to donors. Wayne would print small blood drive schedules and glue them to refrigerator magnets to hand out at blood drives.
“I can’t do it myself,” Wayne said about accepting CBC’s Platinum Awards for blood drive excellence. “I think we’ve had an opportunity to do this mainly because of the help I get from members of the church and all the people that show up to donate blood.”
The Memorial Day tornado outbreak of 2019 ravaged Brookville, then COVID-19 arrived like a new storm. With visitation strictly limited at senior care facilities, Brookhaven hosted its final blood drive in March 2020.
Community United Methodist responded by hosting a Bloodmobile blood drive and the search continued for a new indoor site.
“I thought I’d go by the Leiber Center,” said Wayne. “We used to have a Thanksgiving dinner there, and I thought that was an ideal place. I thought we’d go with the mayor. The reason I called him is he’s a blood donor.”
Mayor Chuck Letner arranged to begin blood drives at the Leiber Center in May 2020 with no rental fee. The April 13 Brookville community blood drive marked two years in the new location.
“Wayne was so helpful,” Frech said. “Thanks to those people, we never missed a beat. They are just kind people.”