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Oakmont couple shares joyfully sculptured life

Like Joyce Wolf’s expressive and sensuous sculptures, the life she has lovingly molded in concert with her husband Elliott, manifests many colors, textures and shapes, and conveys a sense of joy and tenderness.

The couple’s joie de vivre shines through as they relate the details of the rich shared experiences that have marked their 43-year marriage, even though Joyce is now 90 and Elliott is 85. Those experiences include high-level executive careers that brought them into personal contact with presidents; the raising of four sons (each had two sons from previous marriages); extensive world travel; tutelage in Buddhism by a well-known Sri Lankan monk, and deep immersion in the art world.

They met almost 50 years ago, at a hotel in Miami Beach. “It was an unlikely meeting,” Joyce said. Each was at the hotel for different purposes: she was taking a vacation with a friend, and he was in town on assignment as a contractor for the former federal Office of Economic Opportunity.

Years later, Joyce would commemorate their meeting by creating a sculpture called “Soulmates.” “We’re incurable romantics,” she admitted. Although she lived in Indianapolis at the time and he in New York, they stayed in touch, ultimately married, and moved to Arlington, Virginia.

She pursued a career in human resources, at one point getting to meet President Gerald Ford while working as the Director of Human Resources for the B’nai B’rith Women’s Organization. “He was so gracious and kind and gentle; we had a wonderful time with him,” she remembers. Joyce later became Vice President of Human Resources for a Washington D.C. bank.

Meanwhile, Elliott was also connecting with high-level corporate executives, bureaucrats and politicians as a marketing and management consultant for large corporations with government contracts. In his spare time, he also taught classes at George Washington University for executives.

In Joyce’s spare time, she pursued her passion for sculpture, exhibiting and selling her work at Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia, a city-block-long enclave of artists’ studios located next to the Potomac River.

She also exhibited in several galleries in Washington D.C.—and more recently, has exhibited in the North Bay. Upon retiring, the couple moved to Oakmont in 1992.

Predictably, the couple took advantage of the community’s active lifestyle and their increased leisure time to pursue new and long-standing passions. Joyce sculpted even more prolifically and began teaching mindfulness meditation in Oakmont and at senior centers in Sonoma County. “I believe in a holistic lifestyle. That’s what keeps us young,” she explained.

Elliott has also continued to stay busy, providing marketing outreach for SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) for five years and then, through Junior Achievement, helping high school students learn how to build a business, from creating a business plan to paying back investors.

In 2002, surrounded by the wine culture of Sonoma County, Elliott decided to take classes in enology at Santa Rosa Junior College. With his newly acquired knowledge about winemaking, he became a tasting room employee for Kendall-Jackson. Later, Elliott moved on to St. Francis Winery, where he conducts vineyard tours and works in the reserve room part-time.

The couple’s life has slowed down a bit in the past year and a half, when Joyce was diagnosed with a heart condition. “Right now we are in a passage where we love spending time together at home,” she reflected.

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