Linda Yaple Wolske was born in Columbus, Ohio on August 14,1934 to Roger and Mildred Yaple. Linda has many fond memories of the Hilltop as well as her years at West Broad Elementary and West High School, vividly remembering her graduation 70 years ago! While at West, she was involved in Latin Club, Debate Club, “L” Society, National Honor Society, Office Monitor, Y-Teens, and the Band Variety Show with the famous dancers honored by the Columbus Dispatch. She also participated in Girls Intramurals and the Class Basketball Team with her team being the “Champs” in 1951-52. After graduating from West in 1952, she was very excited to begin her new chapter in life – college. She began at Miami University in Oxford, attending for two years, followed by Colorado at Boulder for one year, and finishing at The Ohio State University in 1956 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Also graduating that year was Linda’s high school sweetheart, Walter “Cy” Wolske (Class of 1950). He graduated from OSU Law School. They were married in August and moved to Dallas, Texas to work, but eventually returned to Columbus to start their family. Linda continued to work at the YWCA Teenage Department, as she did in Dallas, overseeing Columbus Y-Teens. However, she soon discovered that being a “stay at home Mom,” devoted to her family, was what she was lucky to be. She did take a few postgraduate courses at OSU to fill her idle time.
In 1977 their family life changed when their nine-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. This was only one year after Linda’s Father had died from complications of diabetes – stroke and amputation. Adjusting to the reality of what their daughter’s life might hold, she decided to visit the Central Ohio Diabetes Association and see what she could do to help the diabetics of Central Ohio. Upon making her appointment at the small office on 5th Avenue, she enthusiastically offered to help as a volunteer. She quickly became the unpaid Volunteer Coordinator and began helping another volunteer with a race in downtown Columbus. From that point, the only way to go was up, because their attempt to raise “big bucks” was disappointing.
In 1980, hoping to increase revenue and acquaint Franklin County with the agency, she decided to form a Women’s Board comprised of women with diabetes, Mothers of juvenile diabetics, and family members and friends who might benefit from CODA’S (Central Ohio Diabetes Association) services. Eleven women met in the Spring and determined that the purpose of the Women’s Board would be to advance the growth of CODA by supporting and extending the activities and usefulness as an agency involved with diabetics and their families.
The first meeting of the Women’s Board was held in the Fall of 1980 with approximately sixty women present. A project was chosen and work began immediately to raise funds. Since inception, the Women’s Board of CODA has contributed financial support for programs that could not have been provided without funding, such as: support of local research conducted at OSU and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, specific detection and educational programs, medical assistance, academic scholarships for youth with diabetes, expansion of CODA staff and offices, and most important, Day Camps in Columbus and Residential summer camp programs in Danville, Ohio. This is CODA’S Camp Hamwi, named in honor of Dr. George Hamwi, the first President of CODA and the first member of the OSU Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The fundraising efforts were varied from a barn party and horses show to a Deck the Halls annual event. Deck the Halls was a highly successful Christmas Tour of Homes. When the group had raised over a million dollars, Linda quit counting, but constantly reminded herself that the women who served on the Board and dedicated themselves to helping children with diabetes were the heroines, as well as her long-time friends. Oftentimes campers say in regards to Camp Hamwi, “It is a week in my life each summer when I can be with other people who are just like me! It’s my second family.”
As Linda raised their children, she was also an active volunteer for many other nonprofits, as well as remaining as a leader of CODA by serving as Founder of the Women’s Board, a member of the Board of Trustees, and President of the Board. As a result, Linda was recognized as giving Outstanding Service to Persons with Diabetes and the Women’s Board established the Linda Wolske Fund, which now annually donates funds to Camp Hamwi for supplies and camperships. No potential camper is turned away for lack of funding. Linda is extremely grateful for the physicians, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and counselors, some who have donated their time, to introduce over 5,500 campers to a community of support and a long path to living well while navigating the challenges of diabetes. CODA is now an integral part of the Life Care Alliance providing outreach for people living with diabetes. The Linda Wolske Fund works with Life Care Alliance insuring that any child who desires to attend summer camp programs can attend free of charge. Linda’s family consists of: one brother, Newell H. Yaple, D.D.S., Class of 1950 and 2004 Hall of Fame Honoree; her husband, Walter “Cy” Wolske, Class of 1950; her son, Gregory and spouse, Kellie; her son Douglas and spouse Tobore: her son Eric and spouse Katherine; and her daughter Sarah and spouse Scott. She has eight grandchildren.
Walter “Cy” Wolske, Class of 1950, nominated Linda.