Hobart D. 'Hoby' Wolf dies at 85

Airstrip owner, newspaper columnist

February 23, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Hobart Daniel "Hoby" Wolf Jr., an airport owner, newspaper columnist and political gadfly who had served as a member of the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals, died Feb. 15 of heart failure at his Eldersburg farm.

He was 85.

Mr. Wolf, the son of a Montgomery Ward manager and a homemaker, was born in St. Paul, Minn.

Because of his father's work, Mr. Wolf was raised in St. Paul as well as Albany, N.Y., and Baltimore.

After graduating in 1942 from Brecks School for Boys in St. Paul, Mr. Wolf enlisted in the Army, where he served in the United States as a translator for German prisoners.

After the war, he attended what is now Towson University and earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

He also studied at what is now Carnegie Mellon University and during the early 1950s hosted a radio show on WKRC in Cincinnati.

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Wolf came to Baltimore when he went to work for Milner-Fenwick Inc., which specializes in medical communications.

After leaving Milner-Fenwick in 1963, he established Pine Studios Inc., an advertising and public relations agency, and later the Advertising Co-Op in Washington, which he eventually sold.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Wolf established Telerep 800, a telecommunications business he owned and operated for about a decade before closing it and retiring.

For more than 50 years, he had lived on a 71-acre farm in South Carroll, about a mile north of Liberty Road, where he also owned and operated Wolf Airport, which featured a single 2,200-foot grass runway.

Mr. Wolf, who earned his private pilot's license in 1945, lived in a sprawling Colonial home facing the runway where he and his fellow pilots would take off. He continued flying until about a decade ago, family members said.

Active in Republican circles and a longtime leader in South Carroll politics, Mr. Wolf had been director of the South Carroll Republican Club and had run unsuccessfully in 1966 and 1970 for election to the Carroll County Commission.

In 1997, Mr. Wolf was appointed to the Carroll County Board of Zoning Appeals to fill the term of James A. Zester Jr.

Mr. Wolf instantly gained a reputation as an outspoken maverick and for injecting sarcasm and humor to the work of the usually "staid land-use panel," reported The Baltimore Sun in 1999, at the time of Mr. Wolf's resignation.

"I loved delivering the one-liners," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

"Mr. Wolf never shied from controversy," reported the newspaper. He often created it with his off-the-cuff remarks. Many of his zingers offended those opposed to his stances, which were frequently in favor of property owners and developers.

In 1998, he was reprimanded by county commissioners after making offensive remarks regarding the approval of a proposed controversial $32 million shopping and theater complex on Route 32.

Regarding growth, Mr. Wolf said in the hearing that the only way to stop it was "to make a sterility potion and dump it in Liberty Reservoir."

The Board of Zoning Appeals eventually approved the project with Mr. Wolf's support.

He told a Baltimore Sun reporter after his reprimand that "I've been OK and I have not told one joke," he said. "I've been in advertising for 30 years, and I know you have to say things like that if you want your comments to be remembered."

Former Republican Carroll County Commissioner Donald I. Dell is a longtime friend.

"What a character. Everyone knew Hoby," Mr. Dell said Monday. "And one thing is for certain, he wasn't bashful about making comments at meetings."

Nimrod Davis, a retired vice president of Cummins & Hart, a construction company, was also an old friend.

"We were on the opposite sides of lots of things in Carroll County. Hoby was a deep Republican and I'm a deep Democrat," Mr. Davis said.

"We had our go-arounds over the years and he was pretty good at coming up with things that I couldn't agree with. The trouble with Hoby was that he never thought he was wrong," Mr. Davis said, with a laugh.

"He was a character, but a nice guy overall," Mr. Davis said. "We had our differences but got along."

Over the years, Mr. Wolf had been a freelance political columnist for the Carroll County Times, and at his death, was writing for the Carroll Eagle, The Standard and The Northern News.

"He wrote a great column. They were very intelligently written," Mr. Davis said.

"His articles were very interesting and they always hit their mark," Mr. Dell said. "They were very colorful and showed Hoby's wealth of experience and knowledge. He could render things in great detail."

Dave Greenwalt is the publisher and editor of The Northern News, a weekly.

"He submitted his last column the day he died. He had been writing for us since 2008," Mr. Greenwalt said.

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