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Published: Monday, 4/9/2001

Ottawa Hills woman hosted radio show in 1940s and '50s

Betty J. Wolf of Ottawa Hills, who hosted a music and commentary program on WSPD-AM radio in the 1940s and 1950s, died yesterday in Toledo Hospital. She was 82.

Mrs. Wolf and her husband, Dr. C. Umhau Wolf, who is a retired pastor of Hope Lutheran Church, Indian and Secor roads, Ottawa Hills, lived for many years in Austin, Texas. They returned to Toledo in 1999.

Dr. Wolf said his wife died from an apparent massive stroke. He said she was working in the yard on Saturday and they had made plans for yesterday. However, she suffered a stroke about 10:30 p.m. Saturday and died about 6:30 a.m. in the hospital.

“We were making plans for the weekend. We were talking how wonderful things were going,” he said.

Mrs. Wolf was the daughter of Irene and Otto Hartman, who owned the former Toledo General Manufacturing Co. on Summit Street. She was born on Cherry Street and her family later moved to Sulphur Springs Road in Ottawa Hills, where Mr. Hartman served as mayor. She graduated about 1936 from the former DeVilbiss High School.

She attended Denison University, but had to drop out when the tuition became too much of an expense for her family during the Great Depression, Dr. Wolf said. He said his wife's older sister also was enrolled at Denison at the time.

She returned to Ottawa Hills and then enrolled in the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School, Providence, R.I., graduating from the school's one-year program. She returned home and worked at her father's company.

Mrs. Wolf married the late Maurice Connell, who later was an aide to Gov. Michael DiSalle and a member of President Kennedy's administration. After the couple divorced, she moved to Seattle about 1945, where she worked as a secretary for about a year.

She moved to Chicago and enrolled in a one-year radio and television program at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. She returned to Toledo and began working at WSPD radio. She hosted a 15-minute program immediately following legendary Jim Uebelhart's morning news program. The program featured commentary, Top-40 music, household tips, and interviews.

“She was one of the world's nicest ladies. She was quite popular and very well known,” said Jim Rudes, a former colleague of Mrs. Wolf's at WSPD.

The Wolfs were married in 1954, about a year after Mr. Wolf's first wife died. Mrs. Wolf, who had a son during her marriage with Mr. Connell, became the mother of Dr. Wolf's four children. She eventually quit the job at the radio station.

Dr. Wolf at the time was pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Erie Street in downtown Toledo. He had met Mrs. Wolf years earlier when she was part-time director of the church's Christian education program.

They started dating after their sons went through Confirmation together at St. Paul's.

Dr. Wolf, who has written articles on biblical archaeology, took a two-year sabbatical in the 1960s in Jordan. Mrs. Wolf accompanied him, writing Journey Through the Holy Land, which was a travel guide that included her observations about the people and area.

Dr. and Mrs. Wolf moved to Austin in 1966 when he became director of continuing education for three Lutheran synods. It was in Texas that Mrs. Wolf further developed her interest in bird watching, a hobby that began as a young girl.

They returned to Toledo in 1975 when Dr. Wolf became pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Mrs. Wolf wrote and edited the book commemorating the church's 50th anniversary.

After Dr. Wolf retired in 1980, the couple moved back to Austin, where she maintained her interest in bird watching. She was a member of the Texas and Travis County Audubon societies, the Toledo Naturalists' Association, and the Ohio and National Audubon societies. She was active in the Texas and Ohio chapters of the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Mrs. Wolf received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Toledo in the 1970s.

Surviving are her husband C. Umhau, daughters, Marianne Degnan, Christine Palmerton, and Barbara Wolf; sons, James and Noel Wolf; sister, Ruth Dunn; six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be held April 29 in St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 428 North Erie St. The time for the service is pending. There will be no visitation. Foth-Dorfmeyer Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

The family requests that any tributes be in the form of contributions to charity of the donor's choice.



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