Wolf was a teacher, a coach and an administrator for almost 50 years in the Weehawken school district. He was a fine athlete during his playing days and introduced his athletic prowess to the children of Weehawken in a wide variety of sports.
Because he had the habit of calling his students, "laddie" for boys, and "lassie" for girls, Wolf affectionately became known as "The Big Laddie," a nickname that stuck and has stood the test of time.
Inducted into Hall of Fame
Thursday night, Wolf earned his place among the many sports immortals that have called Hudson County their home.
He was inducted into the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame at the organization's 17th Annual Induction Dinner at Casino-in-the-Park in Jersey City.
"It is a prestigious honor to be selected into the Hall of Fame," said Wolf, who attended the ceremonies with his beloved wife, Madeline. "I'm very honored and very proud. I'm greatly appreciative of the honor."
Wolf established himself as one of the most dedicated and versatile coaches in the history of Hudson County sports, having served Weehawken High School in a variety of roles and positions in athletics and academics that spanned almost half a century.
Athlete and a coach
Wolf was a fine soccer player and basketball player at Weehawken High School in the 1930s, having played for the legendary Les Purvere, a charter member of the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame.
During World War II, Wolf enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and served three years as an airplane engine mechanic in the Pacific and Far East.
Upon returning home to his native Weehawken, Wolf attended New York University, where he played two years of football, but it was as a wrestler where Wolf gained his personal best.
Wolf wrestled at NYU for four years, was the team's captain for two years and went undefeated in his senior year of 1951, winning several local and national competitions.
After graduating from NYU, Wolf came back to Weehawken, teaching physical education for 23 years. Wolf was also a dedicated coach at the school, having coached soccer, football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, track and field and wrestling during his career at the school. He was easily the most diverse coach in the history of Weehawken athletics, coaching all those sports.
Wolf was instrumental in bringing wrestling to Weehawken and he is considered the father of wrestling in the township. Wolf was the head wrestling coach in Weehawken from 1953 through 1978.
"Back then, we were the receiving district for both Secaucus and Weehawken," Wolf recalled. "So we were very fortunate to have a lot of good athletes come our way. It was a memorable tenure I had in Weehawken."
Wolf told the audience of over 600 that current Weehawken Superintendent of Schools Kevin McLellan was one of his best students.
"He was one of the best gymnasts we had," Wolf said. "He still holds the record for climbing the vertical ropes."
Wolf later became the Director of Athletics at Weehawken High, then became an assistant principal at both Woodrow Wilson School and Weehawken High School.
In 1977, Wolf became the principal at Woodrow Wilson School, the school he attended as a youngster, and served in that role until his retirement in 1987.
"People called me 'The Big Laddie,'" Wolf said. "That's because I always felt the kids of Weehawken were my family. Through the years, I was fortunate enough to see them grow into fine young men and women. I was able to share in their accomplishments and successes and that was very rewarding."
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner was among the several Weehawken people on hand to honor Wolf's induction.
"Howard has been so instrumental in the Weehawken community for many years," Turner said. "He's a lifelong resident who truly gave of himself to help others. You can't even begin to count how many students he helped over the years. It's a well deserved honor for Howard and it's a great recognition for Weehawken. I was happy that the Hall of Fame recognized the accomplishments of Howard."
Wolf was the lone inductee from Weehawken this year. Others inducted included George Mason University athletic director Tom O'Connor of Union City, former University of Connecticut basketball great Jimmy Foster of Hoboken, former St. Peter's College basketball standouts Ken Markowski (Bayonne) and Bill Smith (Jersey City),
Also included in the 2007 induction class were Pat Longo (Bayonne), Joe Forenza (Guttenberg), Al Long (Bayonne), Jody Hill (Harrison), Vic Perez (West New York), Howie Albert (Secaucus) and Jack Muraca (Hoboken).
Paul Venti (Jersey City and Kearny), Sam Monaco (Union City), Fred Shields (Harrison), Jimmy Lisa (Hoboken) and Kevin Gilmore (Harrison) were inducted posthumously.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org