M. Wayne Wolfe, 93M. Wayne Wolfe, 93, former vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls who started the journalism department there, died Sunday, May 6, at Our House assisted living facility in River Falls. He had lived there since the death of his wife, Marian, last December.
M. Wayne Wolfe, 93, former vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls who started the journalism department there, died Sunday, May 6, at Our House assisted living facility in River Falls. He had lived there since the death of his wife, Marian, last December.
He was born Mansell Wayne Wolfe on Aug. 5, 1918, in Monessen, Pa., to Mansell J. Wolfe, a mail carrier, and his wife, Ethel. He attributed his lifelong appreciation for cultural diversity to his early friendships with people from the many ethnic and religious groups in his hometown. His own mediocre high school achievement also convinced him that early education does not always predict later scholastic achievement, an understanding he brought to his teaching at River Falls.
Wayne graduated from Monessen High School in 1934 and became a reporter at the weekly Monessen News Call. He also studied voice, singing for weddings, funerals, recitals, and in operatic choruses in nearby Pittsburgh, Pa. In 1938 he met and began dating Marian Bennett, the daughter of the new minister at First Christian Church in Monessen. They were engaged in 1942 when she graduated from California State Teacher's College in California, Pa.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was called to active duty that September. They were married on June 5, 1943, in Houston, Texas, where Wayne was stationed. A second lieutenant teaching navigation, he was transferred to Hondo AFB near Castroville, Texas, where their first child, Warren, was born in 1944. In January 1945, Wayne trained with a B24 crew in Springfield, Mass., before being reassigned to Ephrata AFB in Washington State in July 1945, expecting to be sent to the Pacific Theater. But after V-J Day that August marking the close of WWII, he was discharged in October.
They returned to Monessen where, after a brief stint at the Pittsburgh Steel Mill, he became managing editor at the News Call. Their second son, Charles, was born in 1946. With GI Bill benefits, Wayne enrolled that fall at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., graduating magna cum laude in 1949 with a B.A. in Spanish and English, and a Phi Beta Kappa key, while working 20 hours a week in a laundry and 10 hours a week for an English professor. He received a scholarship and earned a master's degree at Indiana University in Bloomington in 1950.
That fall, he joined the staff at what then was Wisconsin State College at River Falls as a journalism teacher, public relations director, and adviser to the Student Voice college newspaper and later the Meletean year book.
In 1953, after the birth of his first daughter, Mary, Wayne took a leave of absence to pursue a Ph. D., studying for a summer at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, in Mexico City, and then at Indiana University, where he taught and completed course work for a doctorate in Latin American area studies. He returned to River Falls in 1955. In 1958 he finished his English translation of "Otra Primavera" (Another Springtime) by Mexican playwright Rodolfo Usigli, one of his professors in Mexico City. The play was performed at River Falls, and the translation won the Rosamond Gilder Award for the Best Latin American Play in Translation in 1961. That year, Wayne and Marian's daughter Kate was born.
Wayne received his Ph. D. in 1964, became administrative vice president, and established journalism as a major at the school. In 1970, he became assistant chancellor. He traveled to Copenhagen in 1973 to negotiate a contract for facilities in Denmark for foreign study on behalf of a consortium of University of Wisconsin campuses. In 1976 he took a 1-year leave to be a Fulbright-Hays lecturer at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.
Returning to River Falls, Wayne and Marian became year-long "parents" to an Australian high school exchange student, Al Ball, who became their "fifth child." In 1983, Wayne served as president of the Wisconsin-Nicaragua Partners of the Americas program promoting social and community development.
He retired Dec. 31, 1985. Wayne and Marian spent much of their retirement in foreign travels, visiting more than 30 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Australia. They also spent many winters in Mexico or Corpus Christi, Texas. Wayne was an active member of First Congregational United Church of Christ in River Falls and helped guide and shape the UWRF Foundation, through which he and Marian established a journalism scholarship and a student award. Wayne found great reward in teaching and in watching his students blossom at the university and after they graduated. He was a wise and caring father, with high expectations of his children, as of his students and himself. He will be remembered for his love of language and fine music, his quick wit and ready humor, his eclectic knowledge, great generosity, slowness to judge harshly, and his appreciation of the gifts of people who thought and lived differently from him.
Wayne is survived by his four children, Warren (Sheryl Fairbanks) Wolfe, Roseville, Minn., Charles (Mary) Wolfe, Prescott, Wis., Mary (Jim) Bates, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Kate (Ralph) Wolfe-Jenson, Woodbury, Minn.; his "fifth child" Al Ball, of Australia; 10 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren; brother Dr. Warren J. Wolfe, Bowling Green, Ohio; sister-in-law Arlene Dodson, Mackinaw, Ill.; and a number of nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews.
The family prefers that memorials be directed to First Congregational United Church of Christ, River Falls, or the M. Wayne and Marian Wolfe Journalism Scholarship at the UWRF Foundation. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, May 21, at the church, followed by a reception.
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