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Published: Thursday, 9/26/2013

Fred J. Rolf, [1922-2013]; Leadership Maumee ex-school chief’s forte

Rolf Rolf

Fred J. Rolf, the dean of area superintendents when he retired after 24 years at the helm of the Maumee schools, died Sept. 15, in Select Specialty Hospital, Orlando, Fla. He was 90.

He had medical problems after a fall in mid-July, his daughter, Debbie, said.

Mr. Rolf retired in 1982. He was hired in 1950 as a seventh grade teacher at Union School, and the district had about 1,150 students. By its 1971-72 peak, more than 4,500 students were enrolled.

“He meant so much to the district and the community,” said Gregory Smith, in his 19th year as Maumee superintendent, whom Mr. Rolf hired as a high school social studies teacher. “He was a phenomenal educator and outstanding leader and visionary.”

Rolf Park on Cass Road was named in his honor. He was named “outstanding citizen of the year” in 1981 and, the next year, was awarded the Maumee Exchange Club's Book of Golden Deeds. The city awarded him its bronze Commemorative Medallion.

“Dad was so humble. He was comfortable in his own skin,” his daughter said. “He had the career he really wanted to have.

“Kids otherwise left behind or defeated by the system were totally lifted up by Dad,” his daughter said.

Earlier, he taught eighth grade at Fort Miami School and was principal of Union School.

He was born Sept. 30, 1922, in Pemberville, Ohio, to Edward John and Dora Rolf. He was a 1940 graduate of Gibsonburg High School. At 6-feet, 4-inches tall, he was captain of the basketball team and played football and baseball.

He worked at the Erie Proving Grounds, where he met his wife, and attended Bowling Green State University. He was an Army veteran of World War II and fought at the Battle of the Bulge. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from BGSU and a doctorate from the University of Michigan.

In the 1950s, the Rolfs took in Anne Korakas, a teenage girl from the Miami Children's Home, as a foster daughter, and she has remained part of the family.

“The bond was made,” their daughter Debbie said. “She had been truly a sister to me and a daughter to my parents.”

He was a former member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Maumee.

Surviving are his wife, Janet Rolf, whom he married July 10, 1943; daughter, Debbie Rolf; foster daughter, Anne Korakas, and brother, Herman Rolf.

Memorial services will be at 4 p.m. Sunday in Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Lake Mary, Fla.

The family suggests tributes to the Maumee City Schools for the Fred J. Rolf scholarship fund.

— Mark Zaborney

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