Ben Wolf

by

Mary S. Leahy

Ben Wolf, author, teacher, poet, Friend of the Library and its staff, died in December 1996. The Library has lost a talented artist and a willing supporter of Library Publications. His art work handsomely graced our greeting cards for years.

Ben always carried a pocket full of pens and pencils "just in case." That "just in case" happened often while Ben was at Bryn Mawr. Once when we were doing a Library Publications Newsletter, we wanted a drawing of an Eiffel Tower. A word to Ben about the need was followed by: "Is there anything I can do to help?" There was and he did. About twenty minutes later, he appeared at the door of the office and asked how large we wanted the Eiffel Tower to be. Then with his ever present smile, he presented us with a series of various size towers impeccably drawn.

Ben never signed a check at Wyndham, he always drew something. "Do you think Nancy Hanlon would like a sailboat today?" Everyone at the table was given the opportunity to request another sail for the boat or put people on it. One time, Ben drew an exotic bird on a perch. Nancy recognized it immediately and said: "That's Mr. Wolf's check!" It really didn't matter what Ben drew, his distinctive style emerged. Ben was a happy man and his happiness made those of us about him the same way.

Ben drew sailboats, flowers, and coves in Maine and then gave us the right to publish them as cards. His cards were best sellers! Early in the fall he designed two limited edition prints for the Library staff. They were printed on special paper and signed by the artist. Ben placed them in unmarked pristine white envelopes, one for each staff member. Ben was with us in spirit when the prints were distributed in the Rare Book Room after his death. His beloved wife, Ruth, came to that bittersweet occasion.

Ruth always stayed in the background when Ben was about, but she was there for him. Ruth, an accomplished editor and a generous volunteer for numerous charitable causes, joined Ben in contributing to the cultural life of Philadelphia and later to Waverly Heights.

We thank Ben for the thoughtful things he did, but most of all for his friendship. A book fund has been established in Ben's name and the specially designed bookplate is used to illustrate this text.

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