Longtime Wheaton teacher remembered for his service heart
Those close to Raymond C. Wolf are remembering him not just as a longtime teacher, but as a selfless man who made others his priority and went out of his way to help them without seeking recognition.
Wolf, 69, died Monday after a long illness. He taught art at Wheaton North High School for 33 years before retiring in 2000. A jack-of-all-trades, he taught jewelry, sculpture, ceramics, beginning drawing and painting classes.
"Each (art) piece was very unique," his son, Benjamin, said. "He always put his own fingerprints on each piece."
But Wolf's teachings went far beyond art techniques. Benjamin said his dad always told students, "There's no stupid question, only the unasked question." Reflected in his teaching was the belief that the biggest failure was to not even try.
"He was willing, more or less, to meet the individual needs of each student of his, and he was willing to spend time with them," Benjamin said. "He wanted to make sure people thrived."
That philosophy extended to Wolf's home, where Benjamin said his father would read with him for two or three hours after work, making sure he excelled as an individual and making him feel like he could conquer the world.
"He was definitely an encouragement and he had a unique creativity to that encouragement," Benjamin said. "Whatever he did, he encouraged me. He encouraged my art skills but also just a personal development of who I am."
And while most people take vacations for themselves, Benjamin said his father used even that time to serve others.
Wolf volunteered as an adult leader and mentor for mission trips conducted by Wheaton Bible Church that included working in underserved housing and helping rebuild churches in different locations. For two-week periods, he would oversee construction projects, train high-schoolers and be available to them for prayer and Bible study.
"Ray was really just known as a person that prioritized others, that cared for others," said Rob Rienow, former youth pastor at Wheaton Bible Church. "He had such a service heart on those trips."
Even in illness, Rienow said that belief in service remained strong.
"He was not a guy to complain, to draw attention to himself," Rienow said. "He used whatever strength he had to put other people first. He went about his business serving people quietly and not looking for recognition."
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 7, at Wheaton Bible Church, 27W500 North Ave., West Chicago.
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