Richard O. “Dick” Wolfe, Gonzaga University professor emeritus, died Saturday, Aug. 26, at his home in Spokane, surrounded by his family. Married to Kathleen (Kathi) for 46 years, he was devoted to his family, his career and his community.
Wolfe moved to Spokane in 1980 to serve as professor of education. In that same year he was named associate dean of the infant doctoral studies program in educational leadership, which he developed and expanded over the next 20 years. He served as associate dean of education for 11 years. In 1992, he was named associate academic vice president, and in 1993 he also took on the role of dean of the School of Professional Studies.
But he never gave up teaching. In 1991, Gonzaga honored Wolfe with the Burlington Northern Faculty Achievement Award, emblematic of his outstanding efforts in the classroom.
Wolfe retired in 1999 and was accorded the honor of Professor of Education Emeritus. Always unable to resist a challenge where he could use his leadership and financial management skills as well as his deep experience as an educator, in 2000 he agreed to return to Gonzaga to lead the School of Education as acting dean for one year.
The son of the late Osborne and LaAnna Wolfe, he was born June 5, 1939 in Stroudsburg, Pa., graduated from Schuylkill Haven High School (Pa.) in 1957 and earned a bachelor of science degree from Bloomsburg State College (Pa.) in 1960. He earned a master’s of education degree from Rutgers University (N.J) in 1964 and a doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972.
From 1967 to 1980, Wolfe was a faculty member and administrator at his alma mater, Bloomsburg State College. In 1972, he served as a visiting professor at Gonzaga University. He served as dean of the School of Extended Programs at Bloomsburg, leaving Bloomsburg as faculty emeritus in 1980.
Throughout his entire career, Wolfe was active professionally on the state and national levels with organizations such as the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development. He was editor of the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s award winning journal “Curriculum in Context” for six years and served as coordinator of the superintendent search service for the Washington State School Directors’ Association. For many years, Wolfe served as a team member on accreditation visits for the American Physical Therapy Association. He also served as a consultant to many school boards, districts, and colleges and universities.
“Dick had many accomplishments in his long career. But his greatest gift to his many students was as a mentor and guide who helped them identify their strengths and find the right path to be successful in their careers and in their lives,” said Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. “Their many accomplishments are a tribute to his talents and will always be an important part of his legacy.”
Following his retirement in 1999, Dick and Kathi traveled extensively, spending long periods at their condo in Satellite Beach, Fla. In addition, Dick discovered a great love of New York City and Broadway shows. In support of his belief that it was important to give back to the community, Wolfe also spent a significant amount of time volunteering, serving as a long-term care ombudsman for Eastern Washington, delivering Meals on Wheels with Kathi, and volunteering at the Spokane International Airport. He also was an active member of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
The joy of Wolfe’s life during the last year were his grandsons, Allen John and Richard John, born in July 2005. In addition to his wife and grandsons, Dick is survived by daughter, Lisa (Chicago); son and daughter-in-law John and Audra Wolfe (Spokane); and several nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 31 at Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist at 12th Street and Grand Boulevard in Spokane. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Building Fund, 5720 S. Perry St., Spokane, WA., 99223 – or the charity of your choice.