NORTHPORT – Ilene Harriet Wolcott, 72, of Northport, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 at University of Michigan Hospital.
Ilene Harriet Wolcott was born on Feb. 22, 1941 in Newark, N.J. She grew up in New Jersey in a close, extended Jewish family, sharing summers at the Jersey Shore and weekends in the Catskills. She attended the University of Rochester, then New York University, and graduated from Kean College with a teaching degree.
Ilene married Thomas Asher in 1962 and the next year started teaching in a “blackboard jungle” school in West Harlem, then in a suburb of Detroit, and next in Queens, New York City. Her daughter Lauren was born in Washington, DC in 1966. Ilene received an Master of Arts in counseling from American University in 1973.
After her divorce, Ilene married Peter Wolcott in 1972 in Leland, Mich., gaining three stepchildren as well. She spent her first year of marriage studying Finnish at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington in preparation for Peter’s assignment to Finland. In Helsinki she taught sixth grade at the British School. She loved the snow, clouds, and pine trees of Finland. On her return to Washington she started a new career as the first manager of The Women and Health Roundtable. As a national advocate she researched, wrote, gave speeches, and testified before Congress about the need for increased attention and resources for health issues affecting women.
Ilene moved with Peter to Melbourne, Australia in 1979, where he was the public affairs officer in the American Consulate. Determined to have her own work and identity rather than be a traditional Foreign Service wife, she was quickly employed as editor of the Social-Biology Resource Centre Journal. In 1980 she was hired as one of the first researchers at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She researched and wrote 27 publications on family issues, which were widely cited by scholars around the world. She loved to travel throughout Australia, fearlessly riding on planes ranging from air force transports to single engine desert hoppers.