Wolf Israel, 63, died courageously on Saturday morning, January 19, 2013, in his final act of civil disobedience on the banks of the Hudson River, in Greenwich Village.
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Wolf was born in 1949 in Houston, Texas, to Mary and Louis. At the age of just eight, Ms. Pickering, teacher at Houston Elementary school, advised Wolf's parents to: encourage their child to "start building a library of his own". Clearly this advice must have stuck given Wolf's life-long love affair with books and the written word.
Wolf left Houston at 17 and spent his youth protesting the Vietnam War, munching lentils on a commune, and advocating peace and justice. Wolf graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1972 under the tutelage of poet and longtime mentor Jane Cooper. He received his Masters of Art from The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1976. Wolf wore many hats, including (but by no means limited to) bartender, bookseller, busker, printer, photographer, teacher and carpenter. He did not call himself a poet, but he was without doubt one in word and deed.
For the past ten years Wolf called both New York and San Francisco his home. In 2012 he established full-time residency in Greenwich Village, where, just as he had in San Francisco, he made a difference to a great many lives. He will be remembered for his wit, charm, brilliant mind and humble lifestyle. He was generous in equal measures to both friends and strangers and was never content to let an injustice go unchallenged. For those who knew him best, above all he gave us his humor, his firm guidance, and his undivided loyalty. There is no doubt that the world will now have an empty space where Wolf should be.
He is predeceased by his parents Mary and Louis and his beloved cat Rudy, and cheeky pony, Cappy. He will be sadly missed by his aunt and uncle in Florida.
Along the years, Wolf 'collected' 'honorary' family members including: Maureen, Cathy and their son, James of upstate New York, and Jude & Andy from San Francisco. Wolf had so many good friends from across the miles and we all join in grieving deeply for his loss.
Wolf did not want a funeral service of any kind, but would forgive us for gathering as friends to remember him and his many contributions to our lives and our world. A San Francisco memorial gathering of friends will take place on April 6th. For more information, call 415-377-7242
Thank you to Wolf's dear friend Lynne and caretaker Shannah who did so much for him in his final months.
In lieu of flowers a fund has been established in Wolf's name to publish his poetry and photographs and to set up a reading room with his books in upstate New York. It will be a place for creative workshops and social justice workshops. Checks can be sent to: the Wolf Israel Memorial Fund, PO Box 163, Greenwich NY 12834.
Published on NYTimes.com from Mar. 8 to Mar. 9, 2013