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Published: Saturday, 7/26/2014 - Updated: 1 month ago

John E. Wolf; 1939-2014: Food Town V.P. started in carryout

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

John E. “Jack” Wolf, a grocery carryout boy in high school who retired as a Seaway Food Town corporate vice president, died Thursday in his West Toledo home. He was 75.

He suffered colon cancer the last three years, family members said, but was able to dance with his granddaughter Daisy at her wedding July 12.

Mr. Wolf retired in July, 2000, as vice president of store operations. That year Food Town, based in Maumee, became part of Spartan Stores of Grand Rapids, Mich.

“He was a key factor in the success of Food Town,” said Rich Iott, who was Seaway Food Town president and chief executive and son of the chain’s longtime leader, the late Wallace D. “Wally” Iott. Food Town at its height was one of the largest supermarket chains in Ohio.

Mr. Wolf was assistant manager of the Alexis Road store when the younger Mr. Iott started to work there early in his career.

“Jack was a very personable guy. He always had a joke,” Mr. Iott said. “There was no drama. Whatever came up, you would deal with it, and not get mad about it.”

He was born Jan. 10, 1939, to Vivian and Erwood Wolf and grew up on Euclid Avenue in East Toledo. The Food Town store on Navarre Avenue hired him to carry out groceries in 1955.

He graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1957.

His steady advance at Food Town included stints as produce manager and management jobs at stores on Alexis and on Secor Road and in Point Place.

He became a district manager, then a director of retail operations before he took charge of opening the chain’‍s warehouse-style stores in Columbus and Dayton and then the opening of the chain’s Pharm drugstores.

In 1996, he was named a vice president.

“That’‍s why we are so proud of him,” his daughter Jackie Schonter said. “He worked his way up to vice president without going to college.

“He loved working for Food Town,” she said. “He was all about taking care of his family, and the promotions helped him do that.”

Spartan closed the last Food Town store in 2003.

Mr. Wolf and his wife, Jeanette, owned a series of nightclubs in West Toledo, East Toledo, and Sylvania in the 1960s and ’70s. In recent years, he mused about opening a bar with his grandsons or niece Stefanie.

“He was just a social guy and had lots of friends,” his daughter Betsy said.

His parents took the family for vacations in the Irish Hills of southeast Michigan as he grew up, and 27 years ago he and his wife bought a cottage on Vineyard Lake.

He and his wife married Feb. 7, 1959. She died July 4, 2006.

Surviving are his son, Timothy Wolf; daughters Jackie Schonter, Betsy Henry, and Amy Smith; sister, Nanette Stark, and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Hoeflinger-Bolander Funeral Home in Oregon. Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Monday in St. Thomas Aquinas Church in East Toledo.

The family suggests tributes to the Helping Hands of St. Louis or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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