Many people in Wellington know Hankie Holefelder as the woman who performs at piano concerts and has been teaching piano lessons for more than 60 years. To anyone who has seen how effortlessly she moves around at age 86, it would be no surprise that athletics and fitness have long been a part of her life.
She works out at the Wellington Recreation Center with personal trainer, John McComb. Holefelder has a long relationship with the Wellington Recreation Commission. She has served on its board for more than 50 years. She joined the commission in October of 1969 around the time The Beatles released their final album, “Abbey Road.”
“I figured as long as I worked with children, I qualified to be on the rec commission,” she said. “I’d just had my fifth child and I thought that would be a good thing for me to do because I had five children of my own and they all participated in rec activities.”
Today, the Rec Center has a fitness center, a sports director and arts director. When Holefelder began serving on the board, there was just one director for all the activities, Kenny Everhart.
“We didn’t have all those other people,” she said. “We just had Ken. He did it all. Each director has expanded the programs a little more and each one has done a fabulous job in their era.”
While the basic sports don’t change, new programs like swim classes, kickboxing, karate, yoga, fitness for seniors and the cornhole tournament have been introduced, Holefelder said.
“Now we’ve expanded it to the arts,” she said, quick to talk about all the activities the WRC offers.
WRC Director Cody White said, “She’s our biggest cheerleader.”
Holefelder is also quick to praise the other members of the board she serves with now and has served with over the years. All the other members of the original board she joined 50 years ago have since passed away. The other current members of the board, along with Holefelder, are Tami McCue, Matt Barton, John Brandt and Betty Zeka.
“We’ve always had a board that could work together really well,” Holefelder said. “That’s the most phenomenal thing.”
Holfelder has been into athletics since she was a child, growing up in Durham, North Carolina. Her father was an architect and a professor at Duke University and he took her to see various Duke sporting events. She learned to ride a horse and as a teenager, she went to summer camps in various states and taught horseback riding.
She majored in music at the University of Kansas where she met her late husband, Frank Holefelder. He was from Wellington and the couple settled here.
“I never had any idea that I’d be teaching this long, but there again, if it’s something you love to do, why not?,” she said. “It keeps you young. I feel very blessed to be here and do what I love to do. How many people get to do that? How many people ever find what they really like to do - ever in their lives?”
Holefelder found what she likes to do at a young age and she doesn’t plan to give it up any time soon.
“The rec commission has been a big part of my life, and as long as I’m of sound mind and body, I’m going to stay there if they’ll have me.”