Italy’s Citizen of the Month for February- Wendell Wolaver

Image: Wendell Wolaver — Wendell is a Italy fourth generation and proud of it.

Wendell Wolaver — Wendell is a Italy fourth generation and proud of it. (Cindy Sutherland)

Wendell Wolaver is a fourth generation “Italy-ite” born and raised in Italy. He was born in September 1933 in a home right around the corner from where he now resides. He is very proud of his home town and is honored to be Citizen of the Month.

Wolaver graduated from Italy ISD in 1951 and attended college at Arlington State College. “Arlington State College is now UTA and at the time I attended school there it was a junior college,” explained Wendell. He received his bachelors degree in Science/Health and Physical Education with a teacher’s certificate in 1955 from North Texas State University. Wolaver is very proud of one of his fraternity brothers that he pledged with while at North Texas. “Pat Boone was my pledging brother in our fraternity in college. He was just a regular guy. Very nice guy,” Wendell proudly explained.

Once Wendell graduated from college he served two years active duty in the US Naval Reserves. He was on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean which is off the tip of the boot of Italy (the country). Wolaver was with an anti-submarine sea and air rescue squadron. Wendell explained, “We patrolled the Mediterranean Sea and the Straits of the Dardenell Islands. We were searching for out coming submarines coming from the USSR. We knew that they had a large number of submarines. Malta was the most bombed area per square mile in World War II because when the Germans would fly back from where ever they had been they would get rid of the left over bombs on Malta to get rid of the weight on the planes. I stayed there for six months, it was such a remote location that they didn’t want anyone staying there more than six months. This was a very exciting experience for me.”

Wolaver served his two years and got out of the service in 1957. He then got his first teaching and coaching job at Avalon ISD. One of the highlights of his teaching career was when Red Oak ISD asked him to start up the football team. Wendell explained, “Red Oak had a very small football team up until about 1940 and it disbanded because of the war and it never had begun since then. So Red Oak school hired me to organize a football team. It was really a challenge because we had no football field, no equipment and some of the boys we had on the team probably played in the first football game they ever saw. They didn’t know the rules, they didn’t know anything about the game. We played on the road for three years and never played a home game, by the fourth year they finally had home games.”

Since then Wolaver had taught at Whitney ISD, Kaufman ISD and Lancaster ISD and taught five more years at Italy ISD from 1971 to 1976. He then started his own plumbing business in 1976 and had that business until 2005. He now works for Red Oak ISD in the maintenance department.

Wendell said, “One of the best things I did was in 1959 when I married my wife Jan. We have been married fifty years this past September. We have two boys, Kendall and James. Kendall lives in Italy and James lives in Florida. James has 2 boys and Kendall has one daughter and she is a sixth generation of Italy.”

When asked what he thought about Italy, Wendell replied, “Italy is my home, my roots are here. I have ancestors buried in the cemetery here from probably a hundred years ago. I have so many fond memories of my life here. It is what it is, it is my home, where my roots are and I love it.”