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Bernard Wolf September 11, 1925 - July 2, 2019


 “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

No quote could personify more perfectly than this description written by his favorite author, David Thoreau, the imaginative life of Bernard Wolf. Bernard was the youngest of four children born in the Bronx to Sarah Grossman and Morris Wolf. Although his formal education was obtained while attending City College of New York pursuing a degree in accounting, he absorbed much of his early cultural polish while working as an ever-observant waiter during summers at the famous Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel. Enlisting his innate entrepreneurial inclinations, he began selling encyclopedias door-to-door – an endeavor that ultimately brought him to Houston.

Bernard Wolf married Renee Rubenstein in the early 1950’s, and they had two daughters, Shelley and Lori. Subsequently, he met and married Elsa Wise, his lifelong travel companion and lover of art and music for the next fifty-six years.  The Wolf’s home was a celebration of cultural, musical, and culinary activity, delighting friends, artists, and dignitaries associated with the arts in Houston and worldwide. As avid supporters of education, they were also pivotally involved with St. Thomas University.

But the real essence of Bernard Wolf was evident in his construction and constant presence in Wolf’s Department Store. Founded sixty-four years ago and fondly referred to as “the Sakowitz of Dowling Street,” the store became an icon in the community. Once considered the downtown for minorities where they could purchase clothing, do their banking and borrow money, Wolf’s was always an eager supporter of youth programs and a frequent contributor to Texas Southern University. Applauded publicly by the mayor with a Proclamation of Bernard Wolf Day in 2016, Bernard and his dedicated employees of over fifty-five years were honored for their unassuming, yet steadfast commitment to inter-racial relations.

Above all else, Bernard was the ultimate family man. He showered unbounding love, wisdom, comfort, and mentorship.  He adored spending time with his family on Sundays by the pool and celebrating special occasions at his home. Bernard’s constant smile and optimistic outlook on life was infectious to his family and everyone who knew him.  Adored father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and uncle, Bernard was pre-deceased by his beloved daughter Shelley Soussan and wife Elsa. He is survived by his loving daughter Lori Quintavalle (Ed), grandchildren Jessica, Jacqueline (Aaron), Stephen (Jessica), Alec, and Julia, and nine great-grandchildren.

A special thanks goes to his beloved caregiver Flora and the Lopez Family. A memorial service will be scheduled in the Fall. In lieu of flowers, charitable donations may be submitted to Texas Southern University Athletic Department, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, 77004, or Shape Community Center, PO Box 8428, Houston, 77288.





  1. REPLY
    Nancy Bowden says

    Members of the Moores Society at the UH School of Music were saddened to hear of the passing of Bernard Wolf. As a longtime lover of art and music, Bernard is remembered fondly for his involvement, leadership, support, and enthusiasm in the Moores Society and the School’s programs.
    We send our condolences to his family for their loss.

  2. REPLY
    Theoni and Adair Chew says

    We met Bernard and Elsa when we moved to Houston in1983. It was fortuitous to be guests of Norbert and Will at their Sunday dinners with the Wolfs and others whose knowledge of art, music, cuisine and joie de vivre resulted in indelible memories. These grew to a long and lasting friendship.

    Our heartfelt condolences to the Wolfs, their families, and many friends.

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