WILFRED W. WOLFSON, 94
Wilfred "Willy" Wolfson died peacefully December 31, 2011, at his Lakeland home with loving family by his side. He was 94 years old, a devoted husband and father, local hero, renowned pharmacist, and legend in Lakeland.
Willy was born in Lakeland Feb. 27, 1917 he was the third son of Cyrus and Frances Wolfson. His father was the first Jewish person in Lakeland and parents were the first Jewish couple in Lakeland.
He attended Lake Morton Grammar school and Lakeland High School and In 1931 he became the youngest Eagle Scout in Florida, making his family the first in Florida to have 3 Eagle Scout sons. He graduated from University of Florida School of Pharmacy and Pre-Med in June of 1940 and became a registered pharmacist that same month. While at the University, he joined the R.O.T.C. and was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery.
Wil served 41/2 years in the Army during World War II, overseas in the South Pacific Theater with the American Division. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Navy Presidential Unit Citation for his participation in the Marine's invasion of Guadalcanal.
Upon return to Lakeland, he participated in many military programs and parades and was proud to do so just as he was proud to have an American flag hang in front of his home.
After the War, he married Elaine Grossman in New York in September 1946. He returned to Lakeland in 1947 to start his family.
Willy managed the Watson Clinic Prescription Shop for 4 years before opening the first of three pharmacies he called W.W. Wolfson Pharmacist in 1953, He opened the first drive in pharmacy in Lakeland. His dedication to his customers was unparalleled as he was on call every day after regular business hours to make home deliveries of medicine. He also never refused anyone medicine if they were unable to pay.
In 1989, he merged his pharmacy operation with Publix Super Markets, and helped Publix develop their pharmacy business. After he and his wife sold their business to Publix, Wil did not stop giving to the community he loved. He became a celebrated speaker at various civic and school organizations, about early life in Lakeland and World War II.
At age 90, this truly remarkable man gave the keynote address to the graduating class at University of South Florida's Lakeland campus. When he finished, he received a several minute standing ovation.
Wil was active in numerous civic and professional organizations including the Lakeland Rotary Club, where he served as past president and Paul Harris Fellow. As their oldest member he still enjoyed going to meetings up unto a few weeks ago. He was also past president of the Boys Club of Lakeland, an active participant in the Military's Officer Association, and served as a member of the Board of Directors of Temple Emanuel for 25 years.
In 2009, the City of Lakeland referred to Wil as an "icon" and proclaimed October 1 as "W.W. Willy Wolfson Day for his and his family's many contributions to the quality of life in the Lakeland community."
Wil was married to Elaine for 63 wonderful years until her passing in September of 2009. He often said there was no way he could have been successful without her.
He is survived by his loving children, Sandra and Steve Trattner, Steve and Lili Wolfson, grandson, Jeffrey Mirman, and sister Irene Kantor. He also leaves a multitude of friends that were very special to him. The family would like to thank Hope Hospice and Helping Hands for their compassionate support.
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday January 4, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at Temple Emanuel, 600 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland Florida.
Interment will follow in the Wolfson Family plot in Temple Emanuel Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to: The Lakeland Rotary Fund - CFGL, 1501 South Florida Avenue, Lakeland Fl 33803 please note In Memory of Wil Wolfson; or to The Temple Emanuel, 600 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland Fl 33803.