- Mr. DeWolf was a high school mathematics instructor for 31 years in the Modesto City Schools; at Downey High School from 1955-61, and Davis High School from 1961-86.
Mr. DeWolf was the first president of the Stanislaus Math Council, active in the Modesto Teachers Association (serving as representative to the Bay Area Council), and a member of the Sylvan Club, HTWS, and ECV.
He was Scoutmaster for Troop 76 (the BEST troop) from 1966 to 2003, guiding over 80 boys to the rank of Eagle Scout. In 1966, Dick founded the troop's high sierra wilderness camp at Lake Utica, now in its 43rd year. In 1984, he was awarded the Silver Beaver, the BSA's highest honor for distinguished volunteer service.
His special interests included camping, backpacking, and mountaineering in the High Sierra, mountain biking, sailing, and NBA basketball. Dick was a master of the ukulele and campfire songs, and loved telling jokes. He once performed at the Hollywood Bowl, wife Hallie the only spectator in attendance.
Richard John DeWolf was born October 17, 1927 in Oakland, California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he earned his Masters Degree in Mathematics.
He married Haldon "Hallie'' Fowler on December 23, 1950 in St. Louis, Missouri while on leave from his service in the U.S. Army at Fort Leonard Wood. He was preceded in death by his daughter Janet Hill, is survived by wife Hallie, sons Robert (wife Sharon), Don (wife Suzy), son-in-law David Hill, and grandchildren Brian DeWolf, Joe DeWolf, and Jennifer Hill.
- Problem at school? Talk to Mr. DeWolf.
Problem with the parents? Talk to Mr. DeWolf.
Don't know where to turn? Talk to Mr. DeWolf.
Longtime Modesto math teacher and Boy Scout leader Richard DeWolf was the go-to guy for generations of students who needed help -- with just about anything.
"Kids would come to him with a struggle with a teacher, a class or a problem with mom and dad," said longtime friend Bob Sesser. "Dick would say, 'Let's sit down and solve this.' He'd be there for an hour or more talking with them."
DeWolf died Wednesday. He was 80.
He was born in Oakland, and discovered the Boy Scouts when he joined Troop 6 in Berkeley as a youngster. He would have earned the Eagle rank, his wife Hallie said, if he hadn't been stricken with polio. He was shy three badges -- bird-watching, swimming and lifesaving -- of the 21 required.
While attending college at the University of California at Berkeley -- where he met his wife -- he remarked to his Scoutmaster that he didn't know what he wanted to do for a career. The Scoutmaster told him he was a natural with the younger Scouts.
Teaching seemed like a good fit. DeWolf attended San Francisco State University and Reed College in Portland, Ore., where he earned a master's in mathematics.
He taught math at Downey High in Modesto for six years, then moved to Davis High, where he remained a math teacher for 25 years. On the wall of his classroom, he had two pictures: one of Albert Einstein and one of himself.
Ever the math teacher, he planned everything -- even his humor.
"He'd write in his jokes in his lesson plans," his wife said.
DeWolf remained passionate about Scouting, and took over as assistant Scoutmaster, then Scoutmaster, of Modesto's Troop 76, the troop his sons Robert and Don belonged to. He founded the troop's High Sierra wilderness camp at Lake Utica, doing everything from securing Forest Service permits to digging latrines.
He continued as Scoutmaster long after his boys left the troop, and in 1984 was awarded the Silver Beaver, the Scouts' highest honor for volunteer service.
More than 80 boys -- including Don and Robert DeWolf -- received Eagles under his guidance.
"He was the master of working with kids," said Sesser, the troop's assistant Scoutmaster.
DeWolf was a passionate outdoorsman, and counted camping, backpacking and sailing among his hobbies. He played the ukulele, and heartily enjoyed campfire songs.
At school, he was the teacher you go to with just about anything.
"He was very caring, very compassionate," said Louise Alberti, a longtime Davis teacher. "The kids knew that they could go and talk to him."
Another thing DeWolf was known for, at least among his fellow teachers: asking pointed questions to school administrators at faculty meetings.
"He loved to teach," his wife said, "and counsel boys who were having a hard time. He had a knack for helping boys develop into men."
DeWolf is survived by his wife, Hallie; sons Robert and Don; and grandchildren Brian DeWolf, Joe DeWolf and Jennifer Hill. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Janet Hill.
A celebration of life for former teacher and Scoutmaster Richard DeWolf will be held at 4 p.m. July 19 at the Sylvan Club, 2545 Sylvan Ave., Modesto. Donations may be sent to The Wilderness Society, Amnesty International or a charity your of choice.