R.G. William Wolf, 95

It is with joy and sorrow that we bid farewell to a remarkable individual, R.G. William Wolf, who peacefully passed away with his wife Janice and children by his side October 30, 2023, at the age of 95.

His legacy is one of extraordinary accomplishments, boundless enthusiasm, and a commitment to personal integrity and excellence that touched every aspect of his life.

Born on January 1, 1928, at home in Sheffield, Iowa, R.G. was the son of Reuben Guy Wolf, Attorney of Law and the President of the First National Bank of Sheffield, and Ruth Elizabeth (Nolte) Wolf, a dedicated disciple of God and one-room rural school teacher.

R.G.’s grandparents emigrated from Germany to Wisconsin in 1858. His grandfather, William Michael Wolf, played a pivotal role in shaping the Wolf family’s legacy. At 16 years of age William Wolf enlisted in the First Wisconsin Cavalry and on August 3rd 1862 he was shot multiple times during the L’Anguille Ferry Arkansas raid. Wounded badly, his life was saved by freed slaves and those tasked to bury the dead.

William Michael Wolf eventually settled in Mott Township, Franklin County, Iowa, where he farmed and raised a family. William’s resilience and courage laid the groundwork for a family lineage characterized by strength, perseverance, and a commitment to service. His remarkable story of survival became a cornerstone of the Wolf family history inspiring the following four generations to U.S. Army enlistments.

As a child R.G. became the embodiment of resilience and tenacity. His early years were marked by challenges, yet he emerged as a beacon of inspiration, guided by the unwavering support of his mother, his faith and six local businessmen mentors.

The family’s move to Knoxville, Iowa, became the backdrop for a life that would be dedicated to outstanding achievements in his many interests including boy scouts, sports, academics, agriculture, beekeeping, aviation, photography, literature, philatelic, engineering and music to name just a few.

At a young age R.G. showcased his organizational prowess, evident even in the third grade when he initiated annual neighborhood track meets. High school saw him assume leadership roles as Senior Class president, president of various honor societies, and the visionary behind Knoxville High School’s first revised yearbook since 1900. His list of accolades continued to grow, becoming Knoxville’s first Eagle Scout and the founder of Sea Scout Ship Knox.

Tough times in America meant you had a garden and canned everything for the winter. R.G. excelled at gardening and raising bees. He sold his own honey and saved enough to pay for his education at Iowa State where he earned a Horticulture degree with engineering minors.

While in college, R.G. was a four-year Letterman and a standout athlete. His 1946 senior year was particularly notable, crowned as a state high hurdle and Drake Relays champion. Decades later, he was respectfully inducted into the Knoxville High School Athletic Hall of Fame, an honor complemented by a second induction as a member of the 1946 track team.

R.G. William Wolf served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, embodying a commitment to duty and service that defined his generation.

His industrial engineering career was interspersed with entrepreneurial ventures, including beekeeping—a passion that underscored his commitment and a deep connection with nature, property management, photography studios, and even food production. R.G. was a trailblazer, founding what would become the Manufacturer’s Alliance of Minnesota and initiating the first Minnesota Masters Track and Field Club.

One of the highlights of R.G.’s early career was his role working alongside his cousin, Xen Stoner, the founder of Cat Pumps International. This collaboration allowed R.G. to leverage his engineering skills in a position he cherished, contributing to the success of a company that would leave a lasting mark on the worldwide industrial pump industry.

A delightful anecdote from R.G.’s childhood reveals his lifelong love affair with ice cream. Working in a creamery as a young boy in the 1930s, the creamery owner generously allowed him to indulge in as much ice cream as he desired. However, the owner eventually had to cancel this benefit due to R.G.’s voracious appetite for the frozen treat. “Lol”, R.G. recently told his grand kids.

“Dad loved projects” so it was no surprise that R.G. designed and self-built a three story home so that each of his children would have their own room. Of course the house also included a photography studio, a wide open third floor gymnasium complete with basketball court, archery range and theater stage over looking Fountain Lake.

In 1974, facing major back surgery, R.G. turned back to his sport in college, track and field, as a means of rehabilitation, sparking an avocation that yielded numerous championships, top-ten world rankings, and five Masters All American titles in decathlon events.

As a private pilot, R.G. found solace in flying his Piper Aztec from the hangar at Flying Cloud Airport in Minnesota, fostering lifelong connections within the aviation community.

His Grandmother Wolf was only able to speak in German, igniting in R.G. a love and passion for the language that would endure throughout his life. This connection to his ancestral roots was always a part of R.G.’s identity, influencing his world view and fostering a deep appreciation for the Wolf family genealogy. On a trip to Germany in 2005, R.G. was able to track down the original Wolf family house from the 1500’s and also the cemetery where many earlier relatives were resting.

His commitment and interest in the arts started while he was in grade school and continued in numerous ways throughout his life. The Albert Lea Community Theater was a favorite. Years later he founded two community concert bands. First in Minnesota, the Hopkins West Wind Concert Band and then the Cleveland Concert Band in Cleveland Tennessee. These concert bands are still thriving today and often pay tribute to R.G. during their concerts.

R.G. wrote and directed “The Calling” an operetta that premiered December 5, 2013 at the First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee.

R.G. was a man of faith, finding friendship and community in various church memberships. His dedication to Cleveland First United Methodist Church in Cleveland Tennessee was marked by active participation in the choir, Scouting representation, and leadership roles within the Men’s Club.

Preceding him in death was his beloved sister, Maxine Marie (Wolf) Deane, R.G.’s best and most cherished friend.

R.G. Wolf is survived by his devoted wife Janice and their four children, Ronald, Gordon, Brian, and Ann, along with 11 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life greeting will be held at 10:00 A.M. followed by a service at 11:00 A.M. with a luncheon at 12:00 on Saturday, November 25th, 2023, at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in Hermitage, Tennessee.

R.G.’s funeral service will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, December 2, 2023, at the First Grace Baptist Church in Sheffield, Iowa. A Military Honors Burial Service will follow at Hillside Cemetery.


Hampton Chronicle

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