“Jack, we lost a good Sunday. “
“Yes. Dick Loup.
Last Tuesday, two men were chatting over coffee around the counter of the L&B Donut Shop.
“He pissed off a lot of people” a man at a nearby table offered.
“But he probably helped double that number”, another said.
The men were unaware that their conversation had been overheard by Wolf’s son, Rick Hoschar. Rick, who lives in Williamsport, Pa., Had been drawn to L&B, an institution in East Liverpool, Ohio, for coffee and some comforting that morning. This was two days after Dick’s death on September 19 at home, after a long deterioration in his health.
Dick Wolf hated the “stage” prefix (as in “stepson”) and lectured against its use. After marrying Mary Hoschar, a widow at age 35, his two boys and four daughters were his sons and daughters, both his children and the two daughters Mary had given him.
(For people like me who have a hard time keeping things clear, here is the birth order of their children: Philip, Jimmy (infant, deceased at seven months) Fran, Rick, Joan, Lisa, Monica, Kerrianne and Erika.)
A HORRIFIC injury to Mary in 2005 (accompanied by double bypass surgery on himself) prompted Dick to write a letter describing his importance to him and telling the story of their birth. He was apparently sent to Oprah Winfrey to nominate Mary for a recognition program, but in essence it was a telling testament to his love for his wife.
Realizing that they were children in East Liverpool in the 1930s and 1940s, he had a crush on Mary when she was 13 and he was 12, but she married a good friend of his, James Hoschar, and founded a great family. After serving in the Navy in Korea, Dick returned home, lived with his parents, and went to work at the factory, immersing himself in community life as a bachelor. He was particular and never got serious about a girl, telling his mother she would know it was that one when he brought her home for dinner.
James Hoschar died suddenly at the age of 37. Among her multiple small businesses was a restaurant that Mary ran in what was then Hill’s Plaza in Calcutta, and she continued after her death. Dick ate there frequently and was present at Mary’s birthday celebration on October 23. It’s also her birthday, so the family included it in the festivities. Things clicked, the smoldering embers rekindled, and he invited the cheerleader and ball court member who once seemed hopelessly out of his house to dinner.
It is a GIANT understatement to say that Richard K. Wolf’s life was centered around his wife, his children, his community and the schools and sports of East Liverpool. Mary was his anchor, his children were his burden and his joy, and he was bleeding Potter in blue and white.
Dick Wolf was passionate and opinionated about the people and things that mattered to him. He hated injustice and often sided with the outsiders. When Waste Technologies Industries set up an incinerator in East Liverpool, it organized, spoke out and protested against it. An example of his humor was that for years he answered his landline with the words “Von Roll”, a nudge to the parent company of WTI.
Largely self-taught, he was gifted with great intelligence, an encyclopedic memory, a great sense of humor and a powerful personality. He developed a rich vocabulary and was able to express his point of view in full thoughts with factual references and polysyllabic words. Those who tried to argue with him sometimes presented themselves as children in knee-length pants. I’m sure he never said the words “Let’s say we don’t agree”
Dick could work with others to organize and accomplish big goals, but usually arranged to work with like-minded people.
For Wolfie, the principles were empty shells without taking action to support them. He tirelessly gave his time and energy to improve lives and help people in his hometown.
“WOLFIE” IS WHAT I called him, taking cue from other friends. His nephew, Ray Sullivan, who delivered the eulogy Thursday at Dawson Funeral Home, said Uncle Dick used to give nicknames and, of course, gave me one: “Intrepid.” (I liked it, but there should be a caveat for me about a trait that got me in trouble.)
I got to know Dick Wolf after signing as a reporter for the East Liverpool daily in 1980. I notably covered the East Liverpool Board of Education, where Wolfie sat for 37 years.
“The vote was four to one, with Wolf dissenting.” I could have had a rubber stamp made to insert these words into my chalkboard stories. But Wolfie wasn’t against it just for the sake of being a nonconformist. As Bob Duffy said, “He always had a reason.
I connected with Wolfie through the Tri-State Pottery Festival (Dick was one of the founders and hosted the festival’s 5K run). He was very involved in the fight. I had wrestled in high school and had met then coach Nick Trombetta, who had reversed the ELHS wrestling program with the help of Wolfie, who had pushed for the creation of a wrestling training center. across the board and put a sweat in its construction. Many years as a table scorer at the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling tournament were just one of many volunteer jobs.
I had an older connection with Wolfie. He worked at Crucible Steel in Midland, Pennsylvania for 35 years. He and my dad, Lester, had the same recorder job in Cold Strip. and both were laid off when Crucible closed in 1982.
Dick was only 50 at the time. He never took on any other job except occasional renovations, carpentry and handyman jobs, which he billed for peanuts, Kerrianne said. With a small pension from Crucible, “We lived on very little” Kerrianne remembers. Wolfie has embarked on “Make” for his community and his school. A board member, he did so much maintenance around some students’ high school even though he was the keeper.
It’s amazing they were successful, with a house that for a number of years included Dick’s mother, Ada Rice Wolf, and Mary’s single brother, Richard Landfried, who was in Pearl Harbor and in pain. lingering effects of war trauma.
IN 2005, MARY was sitting on the sidewalk outside their home on Steep May Street, working on a flowerpot, when a five year old got into a car up the hill and took it in a way or some other disorder. The car fell and crushed Mary against a telephone pole. She lost her left arm above the elbow and recovered at length from a crushed right ankle, damaged left ankle and other injuries.
This is what prompted Wolfie’s letter to Oprah, which no one in the family had ever seen or known. Lisa found it in her office on wheels.
In the letter, he repeated a statement he made when he and Mary renewed their vows on January 12, 2003: “In terms best expressed by an old sailor, you are my compass, my rudder, my anchor and my safe harbor, protecting me from all the storms of life. . . (and) the wind under my wings.
He remembered telling her once, “Marie, I wish I could give you all the beautiful things you deserve.”
She had answered, “Things never made me happy.”
In a deep drawer of this desk on casters, Rick found it filled with envelopes addressed to Dick Wolf. There were a few letters of spite, but the rest – hundreds – were notes and thank you letters from people whose lives he had touched.
Wolfie, my friend, you were unique.