Henry John Wohlfort, 85, GM accounting supervisor

December 12, 2005|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV | JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV,SUN REPORTER

Henry John Wohlfort, who was known for his love of history and devotion to his family and high school alma mater, died Friday at his Fleet Street home at age 85. He had lived there with his wife, Marie, for 58 years.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Mr. Wohlfort spent most of his life in Maryland. He retired in 1981 as an accounting department supervisor at General Motors on Broening Highway after 40 years with the company.

He graduated from Calvert Hall College High School in 1938 and worked in his later years as a historian for the school. He was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 1993, in part because of his work to locate the grave site of Brother Francis McMullin, the first American Christian brother and founder of Calvert Hall.

It was long thought that McMullin's grave was in Florida, but after two years of research, Mr. Wohlfort, in the 1980s, discovered the grave site was in the New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, said Brother Benedict Oliver, president of the school.

Brother Oliver said the gravestone was so old that Mr. Wohlfort had to trace its engraving onto a sheet of paper to identify McMullin's name.

The discovery "was one of the highlights of his life," said his daughter Janet Nickel of Timonium.

He was also instrumental in organizing his 50th high school reunion.

"He had exceptional organization skills," said his son, Philip Wohlfort of Fallston. "He was able to located each of his classmates."

He served as an Army staff sergeant for almost four years in the South Pacific.

Mr. Wohlfort was very proud of his Army service, family members said.

He organized a Day of Remembrance - an event where every veteran graduate of Calvert Hall was honored - in the late 1990s.

"He took pride in what he and others accomplished," said his son.

In 1999, he joined hundreds of other veterans on a commemorative, hourlong trip on the SS John W. Brown - one of two Liberty ships remaining from World War II.

"He was in his glory that day," Mrs. Nickel said. Mrs. Nickel and other family members piled into a 32-foot pleasure boat and followed her father from the Dundalk Marine Terminal to the Inner Harbor. "I'm not sure he saw us, but he knew we were there."

Mr. Wohlfort spent much of his time organizing annual summer trips for his family, Mrs. Nickel said.

She said the family would load up in a station wagon and drive to the designated vacation spots of Ocean City or the Pocono Mountains. He would begin to box groceries for meals during the trip as early as January.

"It wouldn't be exotic, but we would be together," Mrs. Nickel said. "He was not a man who had riches and wealth materially. It was in the things [like family] that gave him satisfaction in life."

Mr. Wohlfort was an avid collector of paper memorabilia, historical documents and war-related photographs and paperwork.

"I can't begin to describe the documents and books he had," Mrs. Nickel said. "I guess some of us had seen them 100 times, but we would relish them. It meant a great deal to him in his retirement."

"He has left us with many gifts: the love of family, God, tradition and learning," his son said.

A Mass will be offered at St. Casimir Catholic Church, 2736 O'Donnell St., at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

In addition to his son and daughter, survivors include his wife, the former Marie Poznaniak; another daughter, Kathleen M. Schlee of Baldwin; two other sons, Robert G. Wohlfort of Rosedale and David G. Wohlfort of Reisterstown; a brother, Leonard Wohlfort of White Marsh; 12 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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