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Be the Change Profiles



Carolyn Copley Wake ('52)

In an era when many women devoted themselves exclusively to raising their families, Carolyn Copley Wake ('52) was a networker. You can almost hear her Southern drawl: "Come on." But her intent was far more than social; Carolyn's networking changed lives. The business major, now retired with her husband alongside the Piankatank River in eastern Virginia — a playhouse, she says, for her children and grandchildren — can look back over a lifetime of service in Richmond, Va., and in places far away as the Caribbean. As a young mother of four boys, "I often felt as if I was waking up in a men's dormitory," she reminisces. Carolyn served on Richmond's city council for which she visited schools and realized the great needs in the lives of others. "My family volunteered on community endeavors like cleaning up alleys. Our children took part, and I felt it helped them to understand our responsibility to one another." Encouraged by her mentor Inez Roop ('35), Carolyn also served her church and The Bethlehem Center, a community service organization. When friends started the Friends of Barnabas Foundation, an outreach to Honduras, Carolyn and John Wake served on the board and joined trips to the nation. The group treated children afflicted by parasites; later they added a surgical unit and an eye clinic. "We saw folks that had never seen completely just beam when fitted with correct glasses." Carolyn credits her lifetime of service to her upbringing, her time at Madison and a supportive husband.

"Change for me means when you see a need you step up to the plate and try to do your part instead of sitting on the sideline complaining."