ERNST WOLFF, 97 SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Ernst Wolff passed away on March 5, 2014, in Scottsdale, AZ, at 97 years of age. A longtime resident of Freeport, Ill., "Ernie" is survived by his 3 children, 5 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. Born in Frankfurt, Germany on June 13, 1916, Ernie and his family hiked the forests of Germany, skied in Switzerland, and played ping-pong with his friends. His family owned flour mills and Ernie studied to become an engineer of milling machinery, with every intention of working in the family business. As the Nazis came to power that dream ended and Ernie immigrated to New York in 1938. He found work as an engineer in Lockport, NY, and then became an editor at American Miller Magazine in Chicago. In 1941, in Chicago, he married Renata Erlanger, who had also fled Nazi Germany. His wife of 70 years, she predeceased him in 2012. During World War II, Ernie served in the US Army in England and France, ending up in an intelligence unit in Reims, France. After the war, the Wolffs raised their family in Bloomington, IL, where Ernie worked as an engineer at GE. He was awarded 2 patents and in 1962, came to work at Micro-switch in Freeport until his retirement in 1982. He took courses in creative writing at Freeport Community College and wrote an extensive autobiography of his childhood, his escape from Germany, and his time in the Army. Ernie continued to serve the community in many ways. He was a member of the Golden K Kiwanis Club of Freeport and served as the club's president. For many years he volunteered at Winneshiek Players, operating the lighting equipment. He was a volunteer AARP Tax Advisor, and a SCORE small business advisor. He was the last president of the Freeport B'nai B'rith Lodge, prior to the lodge's merger with the Rockford Lodge. For many years Ernie served as chairman of the Stephenson County Chapter of the American Heart Association. He was a key contributor to the Nursing School at Freeport Community College. An active member of the Freeport Ski Club, Ernie continued to hike and ski until he was nearly 90, and his skill at Ping-pong continued his whole life. He played for money on shipboard while immigrating to the U.S. in the Army, and after retirement won Senior Olympics championships in Rockford and Phoenix. After retiring to Scottsdale in 1998, Ernie continued to serve his community in various capacities. Always courteous, kind and cheerful with an infectious laugh, Ernie will be missed by his family and friends. In lieu of flowers, contributions would be appreciated in Ernie's name to: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, a favorite hiking area, McDowellSonoran.org.
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Published in The Journal-Standard from Mar. 8 to Mar. 9, 2014