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Wolf Hammer

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Hammer, Wolf SARATOGA SPRINGS Wolfgang Mark Hammer, a great and brave man, was lost on Friday, February 15, 2013 while surrounded by his family. Most knew him as Wolf or Wolfie and would recognize him by his height above the crowd, his laugh, and his long legacy of helping anyone who needed it, at any time. Wolf was born in Saratoga Springs on October 11, 1949 and he began his life fighting he was born with pneumonia and was not expected to survive. His parents, Joseph and Madeline, chose the name Wolfgang, a big name, to give him strength. His name set his path. In his life, Wolf showed family, friends, and all who loved him the value of never giving up, ever. His family moved to Howard Beach in Queens, and along with his sisters Roxanne and Theresa, he lived happy years and had wild adventures including a one-time street scuffle with Arlo Guthrie. His father died quite suddenly and at age 11, Wolf, his mom and sisters relocated to Saratoga Springs where, with his height, finesse on the basketball court and unforgettable presence, he began to make his mark. Wolf attended Saratoga High School but graduated from Spa Catholic High School. There, crowds chanted "Watch Wolf Work!" as he showed off his moves on the basketball court. He later played for Adirondack Community College and loved basketball (and golf and fishing) with great passion, always. He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from SUNY Oneonta. There, while walking on campus one day, he saw the woman who would become his wife, Leslie. He approached her and said, "If I ever asked you out, would you go out with me?" "I looked at him, said yes, and walked back to my dorm. The birds were singing," said Leslie, his greatest adventure partner, wife, and true love. Wolf's professional career began at Saratoga Race Track at 14, he claimed to be 18 and throughout his life, he focused on fighting for the rights and benefits of workers. He worked as a union organizer, became a regional director for the Job Corps, and then returned to Local 471. Elected as business manager of the local in 1982 and an international vice president of the HERE International Union, he continued to be re-elected and dedicated his entire career to the union members that were, to him, an extension of his family. Wolfgang understood struggle and was always the first one to help anyone in need. He helped people to improve their lives always with a smile and compassion. "You live by the decisions that you make," he often said. He loved to whistle, tell stories, laugh, and drive boats on the open water. He loved sports and the excitement of the game all games and passed this love on to his children. With Wolf, everything was an adventure and he will be remembered, always, holding the big fish. Wolf will be deeply missed by so many. His wife, Leslie; daughters, Lindsey and Marcella; best friend and son, Joseph; daughter-in-law, Lauren; granddaughters, Lillian and Lorelei; his sisters, Theresa and Roxanne and every family member, friend, and person lucky to know Wolf will live on with his memory and spirit. Calling hours will be held Monday, February 18, 2013 from 1 to 3 p.m., with a service at 3 p.m. at the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing and Cunniff Funeral Homes, 628 North Broadway (584-5373) in Saratoga Springs. There will be a private burial announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers or to honor Wolf's memory, love of athletics and legacy of helping others, donations may be made to the Saratoga YMCA, 290 West Ave., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Online remembrances may be made at
Funeral Home
William J. Burke & Sons - Saratoga Springs
628 North Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 584-5373
Published in Albany Times Union on Feb. 17, 2013
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