WALTER I. WOLFE (1886–1965)
Walter Ignatius Wolfe was born on September 1, 1886, in Lost Nation, Clinton County, Iowa. His parents were James Buckley Wolfe, an Irish Catholic farmer, and Anne (also Anna) Ignatius O’Connor, the daughter of an Irish immigrant. He had six siblings: John O. C. (b. 1873), Jeremiah “Jerry” (b. 1876), May R. (b. 1878), Honora “Nora” L. (b. 1880), James Leonard (b. 1881), and Anna (b. 1887).
According to a biographical sketch included in the third volume of A Narrative History of the People of Iowa, published in 1931, Wolfe attended public schools in Clinton County and Lost Nation, graduating in 1906. He then briefly attended the Iowa City Academy, after which he matriculated at the State University of Iowa. A yearbook from 1909 includes him among the members of the Philomathian Society, a literary club, although the federal census of 1910 establishes that he was still, at least on a part-time basis, a part of the Wolfe household in Clinton County. After earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1911 (he was class treasurer), Wolfe received a bachelor of laws degree, also from the State University of Iowa, in 1914.
Wolfe practiced law in Dunlap, Harrison County, in western Iowa, until 1917, when he relocated to the town of Logan, in the same county. There he partnered with Sanford H. Cochran.
Wolfe registered for the draft—his card describes him as being of medium height and build with blue eyes—and was called for service in 1917. During much of his brief time in the U.S. Army Wolfe was stationed at Camp Humphreys, Virginia, or what is now Fort Belvoir, about fifteen miles south of Washington, D.C. The training site, named for the Civil War general Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, was constructed beginning in January 1918. By war’s end, it served as a demobilization center. Wolfe was a sergeant major in the engineering corps.
Upon his return, Wolfe resumed his law practice until 1927, when he organized the firm Robertson & Wolfe with Harry L. Robertson. The biographical sketch describes the firm as “now one of the strongest legal combinations in the county, both partners being able men, thoroughly versed in the law, and enjoying a fair share of the important litigation of this part of Iowa.”
Wolfe married Mary Helen Machemer, of Cedar Rapids, on November 24, 1920, at Saint Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines. The couple had four children: Thomas W., (b. 1922), Mary Patricia, Dorothy Anne, and Ellen Joan (b. 1932).
Helen Wolfe, as she was known, died on July 20, 1961, in Omaha, Nebraska. Walter Wolfe died on September 8, 1965. They are buried together at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.